U.N. rights chief urges Turkey to end state of emergency before vote

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein talks to reporters in Jakarta Indonesia February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations human rights chief urged Turkey on Wednesday to lift its extended state of emergency immediately to pave the way for credible elections.

“It is difficult to imagine how credible elections can be held in an environment where dissenting views and challenges to the ruling party are penalized so severely,” Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who has scheduled snap presidential and parliamentary elections in June, has extended the state of emergency seven times since an attempted coup in July 2016.

Zeid’s office, in a report in March, accused his government of mass arrests, arbitrary sackings and other abuses that in some cases amounted to “collective punishment”.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Andrew Heavens