A delegation of the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) carried out a periodic visit to Turkey from Jan. 11 to Jan. 25.
The committee held meetings with Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, Deputy Interior Minister Muhterem İnce, Deputy Justice Minister Uğurhan Kuş and Director General of Prisons and Detention Centres Yunus Alkaç, as well as senior officials from the Interior Ministry, including the General Command of Gendarmerie, and Justice and Foreign Affairs.
The CPT also talked to the Human Rights Association (İHD) and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV).
The aim of the visit was to examine the treatment and safeguards afforded to persons detained by law enforcement agencies as well as the treatment and conditions of detention of persons held in prisons.
The CPT paid particular attention to the situation of women, juvenile prisoners and persons sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment. The delegation was able to assess the impact of the measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in prisons.
On the occasion of the visit, the delegation also raised with the relevant authorities certain issues related to the follow-up of previous recommendations of the CPT regarding the situation of the prisoners being held in İmralı F-type High-Security Prison, where Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan serves life imprisonment.
The CPT held meetings with Süleyman Arslan, President of the Human Rights and Equality Institution of Turkey, in his capacity as Head of the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) set up under the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture, and representatives of non-governmental organisations active in areas of concern to the CPT.
At the end of the visit, the delegation presented its preliminary observations to the Turkish authorities.
Situation at İmralı Prison
According to Mesopotamia News Agency, the CPT delegation didn't have meetings with Öcalan's lawyers, but the İHD conveyed the "unlawful practices" regarding the İmralı Prison, as well as ongoing hunger strikes.
İHD co-chair Öztürk Türkdoğan said that the delegation didn't visit İmralı Prison.
"We talked about the hunger strikes and described how serious the situation is. We also stressed that they should visit İmralı," Türkdoğan said.
"The delegation said, 'We know how serious the problem is in İmralı and we will tell this to the government.' They did. We'll see what the government's stance will be," he added.