Nergis Demirkaya / DUVAR302 intellects call on gov't not to discriminate against political prisoners in amnesty law
The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has called on the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to include political prisoners in a judicial reform bill that will lead to the release of thousands of convicts and prisoners.
The bill that decreases sentences by half in certain crimes, increases the period of probation from one year to three and releases convicts serving in open prisons during the course of the pandemic was accepted with the voted of the AKP and the MHP in the Parliamentary Justice Commission following 18 hours of talks.
The CHP, however, put an annotation to the bill that will be discussed in parliament's General Assembly this week and that paves the way for the release of 90,000 people from jails.
Human rights activists have been urging President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's government to release prisoners to save them from the threat of coronavirus, citing overcrowded cells and lack of preventive measures in prisons.Main opposition MP slams Turkish gov't for excluding politicians, journalists from penal reform
Although a step was taken towards the release of thousands of convicts and prisoners, politicians, journalists and activists are facing continuation of their arrests since they are accused of terrorism and terror-related crimes are altogether excluded from the bill.
In its annotation, the CHP said that a judicial reform package must be in line with social consensus, adding that it's currently against the principle of equality.
According to the annotation, there are 355 prisons in Turkey, which will further increase when 61 prisons are activated within 2020. The number of convicts and prisoners significantly increased between 2002 and 2019 - from 59,429 to 282,000 people.
It's estimated that the current number is around 300,000, which corresponds to over 120 percent capacity in prisons.
'Judiciary has become politicized'
The CHP criticized the government over excluding opponents and journalists from the bill, adding that the judiciary has become politicized.Former President Gül says early parole bill should include journalists, others jailed on 'thought crimes'
The main opposition also said that a clear cut difference between convicts and prisoners, as well as excluding those accused of terrorism altogether are against the constitution.
"Judges have been issuing arrest rulings under both political pressure and pressure from the President. This exterior pressure applies for the cases of prisoners of thought, political prisoners and some terror arrestees. Hence, the judicial package should address prisoners first," the CHP said.
"The release of all prisoners, mainly those who are accused of committing petty crimes but weren't caught red handed, must have been proposed," it added.
CHP suggests violence as a criteria in terror-related crimes
The party noted that priority of sentence decrease and amnesty must be given to political crimes, as it also criticized excluding terror-related crimes as a whole.
"The element of 'violence' must be the criteria in 'terror' crimes. The acts that don't include violence, such as shouting slogans or writings, must be separated from violence and use of weapons," the CHP said.