24 August 2010

Delivered by Steve Goose, Human Rights Watch, Head of Delegation, Standing Committee on General Status and Operation of the Convention, Geneva, 21 June 2010. We thank Turkey for its statement and for the steps that it has taken so far. We also thank Ambassador Eckey for her efforts to ensure that this matter is addressed properly.

The publicly known facts are highly disturbing. An ICBL press release and background information sheet with basic facts are available to all delegations. This is a matter of grave concern that all States Parties should be following closely. According to publicly available information, this is the most serious and credible allegation of use by the armed forces of a State Party we have ever encountered.We are pleased that Turkey just made its first public statement on this matter, and has informed us that an investigation is underway.

We think all States Parties can agree that the key things are transparency and accountability. Turkey has an obligation to investigate, to determine who is responsible, to prosecute those responsible and impose penal sanctions, and to report fully on the steps being taken and the outcomes.There are many unknowns, including the status of the legal procedures underway and precisely what is being investigated. In addition to establishing the basic facts of the incidents of use of antipersonnel mines, there are a host of other questions to consider.

Where did the mines come from? Were these isolated incidents? Is Turkey investigating allegations of possible other instances of use? Have Turkish soldiers received adequate information and training about their obligations under the treaty? How can Turkey best avoid any repeat of this situation?

In her opening remarks today, Amb. Eckey said that "the measure of the success of our Convention should never be whether there are allegations of actions in contravention of the Convention's prohibitions…. Rather, the strength of our Convention rests in how individual States Parties respond to these allegations and provide clarity regarding any particular situation that arises." While it is of course primarily Turkey's responsibility, there should be a shared concern and shared commitment to accountability and transparency. States Parties should be pressing for clarifications and for aggressive action to address this matter.