In a speech before the UN Human Rights Council, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said Thursday, "The fight against terror is a struggle to uphold the values of democracy and human rights, not to undermine them."
Al-Hussein said that counter-terrorism operations that were non-specific, disproportionate, brutal and inadequately supervised violated the very norms that were sought to defend. "They also risk handing the terrorists a propaganda tool, thus making our societies neither free nor safe," he added.
He said that the use of torture, negligence of due process and collective punishment did not make the world any safer.
The human rights chief also spoke about the importance of freedom of speech in a progressive society. "When powerful leaders feel threatened by a tweet, a blog, or a high-school student’s speech, this speaks of profound underlying weakness," he said.
"And when writers are abducted, jailed, whipped, or put to death; when journalists are assaulted, subjected to sexual violence, tortured and killed; when peaceful protesters are gunned down by thugs... when newspapers are attacked or shut down -- such cases attack and undermine the foundations of stable governance," he added.
Al-Hussein also expressed concern over the rising tide of attacks on people with different religious beliefs.
"Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and attacks that single out Christians or other groups are identical manifestations of the same poisonous intolerance," he said.
Turkey's security bill
The UN human rights chief also raised concerns about a proposed internal security bill.
"I urge the government to take into consideration the views of civil society; to bring the laws regulating use of force by law enforcement officers in line with international standards; and to ensure that freedom of expression [...] is legally protected," he said.
Opposition parties reject the bill outright, claiming it would erode freedoms and rights in the country while the Turkish government says the bill's measures are compliant with European Union norms.
The bill criminalizes participation in protests with a covered face and makes the possession of Molotov cocktails punishable by up to five years in prison.