The Independent Forensic Expert Group, which is supported by the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, calls upon the Turkish Government to secure the immediate release of our colleague and friend Dr Şebnem Korur Fincancı (President of Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, HRFT) and her companions Erol Önderoğlu (Turkey Representative of Reporters without Borders) and Ahmet Nesin (Journalist) who were arrested on 20 June 2016.

We understand that they have been arrested for their participation in a campaign opposing the suppression and investigation of the Özgür Gündem Journal. We understand Dr Korur Fincancı has been taken to Bakırköy Women Closed Prison whilst her companions were sent to Metris Prison.

Dr Korur Fincanci is a highly regarded academic and human rights activist and we believe that the arrest of these three professionals is an example of the type of ‘intimidation and harassment of and violence against human rights defenders, journalists and medical doctors who provide assistance to victims of torture’ referred to by the UN Committee Against Torture in May this year.

Dr Korur Fincanci has had a leading role in helping prevent human rights violations, particularly torture and ill-treatment.  She has assisted torture survivors from Turkey and worldwide to rebuild their lives.  She has been zealous in providing and pursuing justice for the crime of torture and other serious human rights violations. She has dedicated her life to helping vulnerable people.

Her arrest can be seen as a direct assault on the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey which has spent more than 25 years campaigning and working to eradicate torture and other forms of ill- treatment in Turkey, and on human rights activity in general.  Such treatment of individuals whose role is to help those whose lives have been directly affected by physical and psychological abuses, raises questions about the credibility and determination of the Turkish Government to properly address such issues.

We hope that our appeal, from a wide range of professionals around the world will encourage the appropriate Turkish authorities to sanction the immediate release of the three detainees and to ensure that their future work and those of their organisations can continue, unhindered and even supported by, the Turkish Government.  Failure to do so will reflect very badly on the Government’s future aims and intentions.

Members of the IFEG – 22nd June 2016


*The Independent Forensic Expert Group is an international body of forensic experts in the evaluation of the physical and psychological evidence of torture. The following names are agreed signatories to this statement

Djordje Alempijevic, MD, PhD, FFFLM, Faculty of Medicine, University of Belgrade, Member of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture
Rusudan Beriashvili, MD, PhD, Professor of Forensic Medicine University of Tbilisi
Maximo Duque, Médico Cirujano, Especialista en Medicina Forense y Antropología Forense
Pierre Duterte, MD, Psychotherapist, Director of Parcours d’Exil Centre
Adriaan van Es, MD, Coordinator of International Federation of Health and Human Rights Organisations
Ravindra Fernando, MD, Senior Professor of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, University of Colombo
Steen Holger Hansen, MD, Deputy Chief Forensic Pathologist, University of Copenhagen Faculty of Health Sciences
Lilla Hardi, MD, Medical Director of Cordelia Foundation for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims
Hans Petter Hougen, MD, PhD, DMSc, MPA, Professor of Forensic Medicine, University of Copenhagen
Vincent Iacopino, MD, PhD, Medical Director, Physicians for Human Rights
Peter Mygind Leth, DMSc, PhD, Professor at the Institute of Forensic Medicine, University of Southern Denmark
Said Louahlia, MD, Former Professor of Department of forensic Pathology, Morocco, Founding member and past President of MAFS
Jens Modvig, MD, Director of Health Department of the Danish Institute against Torture, CMO, Chair of the UN Committee against Torture
Önder Özkalipci, MD, Forensic Physician, Former Medical Director of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims
Jason Payne-James, LLM, MSc, FRCS, FRCSEd, FFFLM, FCSFC, President, Faculty of Forensic & Legal Medicine, Royal College of Physicians
Michael Peel, MD, General Practitioner, Clinical Lead for Central London Community Healthcare, Former senior medical examiner at Medical Foundation
Christian Pross, MD, Professor of Psychotraumatology at Charité University Medical Center, Center Ueberleben
Jose Quiroga, MD, Medical Director of the Program for Torture Survivors, Los Angeles
Ole Vedel Rasmussen, MD, DMSc, former Member of the UN Committee against Torture and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture
Hernán Reyes, MD, FMH, Ob/Gyn, Senior Research Fellow at Human Rights Centre, University of California, Berkely
Sidsel Rogde, MD, PhD, Professor of Forensic Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway, specialist in forensic medicine
Antti Sajantila, MD, PhD, professor, specialist in forensic medicine, Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Helsinki
Daya Somasundaram, MD, FRCPsych, FRANZCP, FSLCP, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Jaffna and Clinical Associate Professor, Discipline of Psychiatry, University of Adelaide
Jørgen Lange Thomsen, DMSc, DMJ, MRCPATH, Professor,  Institute of Forensic Medicine
Felicitas Treue, psychologist and psychotherapist, Colectivo Contra la Tortura y la Impunidad

Peter Vanezis, MD, ChB, PhD, Professor of Forensic Medical Sciences at Queen Mary University of London
Duarte Nuno Vieira, Professor Catedrático,  Faculdade de Medicina, University of Coimbra