The death of Serkan Tumay in a prison raised concerns on the prison conditions in Turkey once again. While Tumay's family says that he was tortured by prison guards repeatedly and died as a result in Kırıkkale F-Type Prison, opposition deputies Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu and Gülizar Biçer Karaca asked Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül to explain how he died.
The pictures showing the grim death of Mustafa Kabakçıoğlu, a police officer sacked with an emergency decree in 2016, have sparked debate on the conditions in Turkish prisons amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Media reports said that the police officer, who had been in jail for four years, repeatedly asked for treatment for his deteriorating health, but his transfer to a hospital was denied.
Over 36,000 people were probed in one year over "insulting" President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Justice Ministry statistics showed. Out of the 36,066 people probed, 12,298 were tried and 3,381 were given sentences. Before Erdoğan's term, the highest number of people being sentenced over "insulting" a president was 44.
CHP MP slams justice ministry for not revealing number of coronavirus cases in prisons for nearly 50 days
Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Gamze Akkuş İlgezdi has slammed Turkey's Justice Ministry for not revealing the number of coronavirus cases in prisons for nearly 50 days. "A heightening risk is in question at prisons, but the ministry is more concerned about hiding the number of cases than struggling against the virus," she said.
Labor union urges Turkish Justice Ministry to start immediate COVID-19 testing for all legal workers
A Turkish labor union recently sent a complaint to the Justice Ministry about the courts in the province of Samsun, where legal workers haven't been tested for COVID-19. Noting that many courtrooms fail to buy soap, the union urged immediate widespread testing and better precautions for legal workers.
Turkish people tipped off prosecutors once in every three minutes last year, according to a report prepared by CHP deputy Gamze Akkuş İlgezdi, showing the extent that tipping off people have become in the country. According to the report, the increase in the numbers began when the country switched to an executive presidential system on July 9, 2018, replacing a 95-year-old parliamentary system.
Turkish officials have been offering conflicting statements on coronavirus deaths in prisons. There are indeed inmates who have died in jail after contracting the novel coronavirus, according to lawyer Şule Recepoğlu from the Human Rights Association prison commission.
President Erdoğan has called on newly appointed judges and prosecutors not to take orders from "anyone or any power." "I want you to never put your conscience and signature under the order of anyone or any power,” Erdoğan said on May 20.
According to an annual report on rights violations in the country prepared by the Human Rights Association (İHD), eight people were killed in unsolved murders in Turkey in 2019. "The last five years have become a period that the regime became increasingly authoritarian and the official ideology is being attempted to brought to life fully," the İHD said in the report released on May 5.
Inmates at southeastern Urfa prison have been reporting a serious shortage of cleaning supplies and a lack of precautions against COVID-19, a pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) deputy said. Prison guards also reportedly violate social distancing measures during their ward searches that they conduct in groups twice a week.
Turkey's Justice Minister Gül has said that 120 inmates in four different prisons have so far tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Gül said that none of the 120 inmates are in intensive care units and they are all in good health.
The influential businessman, philanthropist and civil society activist Osman Kavala has penned a letter from prison, where he is being kept for over 900 days, saying that he can't keep his optimism due to "the fact that the understanding that doesn't recognize universal legal norms as binding and that uses laws arbitrarily via stripping them of their legal basis has gained legitimacy in the judiciary."
The Turkish Parliament has received 55 new summaries of proceedings against 28 opposition lawmakers from the CHP, HDP and DBP. If the Parliament votes to strip the deputies of their immunity from prosecution, they will be tried by Turkish courts.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) seeks to strip main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Engin Özkoç after branding his criticism of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as insults. An investigation was launched into the lawmaker, which was followed by the submission of a motion to lift his parliamentary immunity.
Detention warrants were issued for more than 750 people over their suspected links to the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen. Gülen movement, an ally-turned-foe of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), is widely believed to have been behind the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt.