Amnesty International started a campaign to urge Turkey's Justice Ministry to release journalists, opposition politicians and activists from prison amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The NGO noted that jailed prominent novelist Ahmet Altan and imprisoned businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala are both over 60, and former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, has been suffering from a heart condition in prison.
An inmate has died of the novel coronavirus in Istanbul's Silivri Prison, whereas the number of patients infected with the virus in the prison increased to 82, prosecutors announced on May 22.
A deputy from the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) said that inmates from the southeastern Bayburt Prison reported being given one mask to share among eight of them and a lack of hot water for the past two months. Inmates also reported prison guards who come in close contact with the inmates, violating COVID-19 measures.
Turkey's Constitutional Court (AYM) ruled that ten prisoners' right to free communication was violated when their letters were confiscated. The letters had been about rights violations in prisons in Turkey, and had been confiscated on the grounds that they were detrimental to the prisons.
Hacı Bişkin reports: Istanbul's Silivri prison, which houses 23,000 inmates, has the highest number of prisoners who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus of any penal institution in Turkey. According to the testimony of one prisoner, 39 prisoners with the virus are being held in the same dormitory-style ward.
Turkey’s social services experts and politicians agree that incarcerated minors are under increased risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the government should make an organized effort to protect them. Suggestions varied from releasing incarcerated children altogether to allowing unlimited phone calls.
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.
In this week’s episode, Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki are joined by journalist Mehveş Evin to discuss the grim consequences of Turkey's recent parole law for some women who fear that their abusive spouses might appear on their doorstep any time soon. They also analyze how women's rights are perceived by Turkish society in general and why more than half of the population think that women's problems are exaggerated.
Müslüm Aslan was in prison for stabbing his wife. When he was released due to the new parole law, he went to see his children, who were staying at their grandparent’s house with their mother. He took them home, tortured and beat his 9-year-old daughter to death in front of his two sons.
Turkey's main opposition CHP has made an application with the Constitutional Court for the annulment of the newly enacted prisoner release law – in regards to the law's form. The CHP says that the legal amendment is a “covert special amnesty,” which is why it requires the approval of at least three fifths of lawmakers in the parliament. In the upcoming days, the party will file a second application with the Constitutional Court in regards to the new law's substance, arguing that it is against the principle of equality for its exclusion of political prisoners.
Hacı Bişkin reports: The coronavirus pandemic has further complicated the lives of sick prisoners in Turkey as the prison administrations made it obligatory to sign a form of consent for an isolation of 14 days upon their return from hospital treatment. Family members and lawyers of sick prisoners are calling on members of parliament for help.
Jailed former Diyarbakir Mayor from pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Selçuk Mızraklı was denied a petition to be released during the COVID-19 outbreak, to which he's particulary vulnerable due to a chronic heart condition. The Diyarbakir court refused to release Mızraklı on the grounds that his arrest and sentencing involved "special circumstances" and that there was no way to assure safety of his ongoing trial.
Turkey's parliament ratified a bill early on April 14 aimed at reducing the sentences of thousands of prisoners, paving the way for their release amid the coronavirus outbreak. The bill, drafted by the ruling AKP and its ally MHP, was supported by 279 lawmakers in the 600-seat chamber while 51 voted against it.
Three inmates in Turkey’s open prisons have died from COVID-19, while 17 others were diagnosed with the virus, Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül said April 13. All cases were in “open prisons” where inmates aren’t held in cells, with no cases seen in other correctional facilities, Gül noted.
Thousands of prisoners are soon set to released over fears of the novel coronavirus spreading through jails. However, bus operators have turned this into an opportunity, demanding outrageous prices from them, reaching as high as 1,200 liras ($188) for one-way ticket. Some of the inmates who could not afford to pay such prices applied to jail management officials regarding this issue, but they have been told: “You are on your own.”