Scabies outbreak reported in several Turkish prisons

Several Turkish prisoners have reported that they were suffering from scabies and that the jail administrations were not replying to their demands to be properly treated. In the face of these complaints, the civil society organization CISST said in a petition to the Justice Ministry that prison authorities have a responsibility to ensure a clean environment and secure prisoners' rights in terms of access to health services.

Hacı Bişkin / DUVAR

Several Turkish prisoners have reported they were suffering from scabies, calling on the prison administrations to tackle the hygiene problem.

“Dirty water is coming out of faucets. They [prison administration] used to disinfect the wards about 1.5 years ago, but they are no longer doing this. I need help,” a prison staying at Istanbul's Maltepe Prison wrote in a letter to the Civil Society in the Penal System Association (CISST).

The prisoner who did not want his name to be disclosed said that he has been suffering from scabies for months and was not properly treated. “Many others have been also infected with it. My mental health deteriorated after this disease,” he said.

CISST has also received a complaint from a prisoner in the Şanlıurfa Prison. Abdullah Daharoğlu told the civil society organization that all of his friends staying at his warden were infected with this disease, with the prison administration not replying to their demands to be properly treated.

Upon the complaints, CISST filed a petition to the Justice Ministry, calling on the authorities to secure prisoners' rights. “The state and therefore the Justice Ministry and affiliated institutions have a responsibility to secure the health conditions within the framework of the right to health under the constitutional assurance,” the organization wrote.

The association called on the Justice Ministry to look into prisoners' complaints and to determine if the jail administrations have been violating their rights in terms of access to health services.

Separately, 39 civil society organizations, including health professional associations, released a joint statement titled “The access of prisoners to cleaning materials.” The organizations recalled that the authorities have a legal responsibility to give prisoners cleaning and hygiene products regularly and free of charge “without any discrimination.”

There have long been concerns in Turkey about conditions in the country's prisons. Civil society organizations have been citing a chronic lack of health teams and medical equipment.

Activities have been also complaining of a lack of transparency over the extent of various outbreaks, which they say are much worse than the government has been disclosing.