Human Rights. UN must condemn Turkey’s illegal travel ban against human rights advocate Orhan Kemal Cengiz

GENEVA, July 24, 2016  UN Watch, a Geneva based non-governmental human rights group, welcomed Turkey’s release today of human rights advocate and journalist Orhan Kemal Cengiz after four days of arbitrary detention, but called on UN chief Ban Ki-moon and human rights commissioner Zeid to condemn the government of President Recep Teyyip Erodgan for imposing conditions on Mr. Cenguz that include a travel ban.

Cengiz and his wife Sibel Hurtas, also a journalist, were detained Thursday at Istanbul airport while en route to attend a conference in London. Hurtas was released the same day, but Cengiz was detained until today.

EU commissioner Johannes Hahn tweeted a statement saying that he was “deeply concerned by [the] detention of journalist & human rights advocate Orhan Kemal Cengiz and his lack of access to a lawyer.” MEP Guy Verhofstadt, head of the Liberal faction of the European Parliament, also spoke out.

Mr. Cengiz had visited the UN Human Rights Council in February, and testified about human rights abuses in Turkey, hosted by the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, a coalition of 25 human rights groups including UN Watch.

“By arresting a peaceful journalist, lawyer and human rights defender, the Turkish government compromised its claim to be defending democracy and the rule of law,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

“We urge Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner Zeid to condemn the illegal ban on Mr. Cengiz’s travel, which would prevent him from visits to the United Nations to provide the world body with vital information and analysis.”