Some 50 sick inmates died in prisons throughout 2019 in Turkey, according to data obtained from several non-governmental organizations.
Human rights groups have been urging the Justice Ministry to act to prevent deaths in prisons – but, so far, to no avail.
Some 7,000 applications regarding sick inmates filed by The Human Rights Association (İHD) and The Civil Society in the Penal System (CİSST) were left unanswered, with the ministry citing the need for “special investigations.”
There are 260,144 people in Turkish prisons, of whom 202,434 are convicts and 57,710 are under arrest, according to data obtained from the ministry, while the İHD said that there are 1,333 sick inmates, of whom 457 are in severe condition.
Majority of the sick prisoners have been fighting for their lives under dire circumstances and are not released even though doctors urge the ministry to do so.
“Rights violations in prisons increased after the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt and sick prisoners suffer from this the most,” Hatice Onaran from the İHD’s Istanbul branch said, as she referred to the attempted takeover in 2016 that led to the deaths of over 250 people.
The coup bid was followed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) declaring a state of emergency, during which human rights violations peaked in the country.
“You can see the grave situation that sick inmates are in if you examine their access to health, hospitals and the poor conditions of prisons,” Onaran said.
“Eighteen prisoners are bedridden and can’t fulfill their needs on their own. The attitude towards sick prisoners is like ‘You are guilty and you can die,'” she added.
Berivan Korkut from CİSST, meanwhile, said that data shared by the Justice Ministry is insufficient.
“We’ve been asking the number of prisoners who died or committed suicide, as well the number of sick prisoners, but we haven’t been able to receive healthy responses,” Korkut said.