Turkey's Justice Ministry has been withholding information from the public about the numbers of COVID-19 patients in the country's prisons. Meanwhile, experts note that cases have been surging across correctional facilities, with both inmates and workers getting sick.
Various rights groups have said that human rights violations recorded in prisons have spiked during the COVID-19 outbreak. As a recent example of the rights violation, the groups said that authorities had confiscated several personal belongings of a group of inmates during their transfer to two newly opened Diyarbakır prisons.
Former HDP co-chair Demirtaş’s wife quits teaching job as COVID-19 prison visitation schedule hinders work
Wife of former of pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, Başak Demirtaş has announced that she quit her job as a teacher two weeks ago. Noting the difficulty of scheduling visits to her husband in Edirne Prison, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Demirtaş said that she couldn't have performed well at work under these circumstances.
Former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş hasn't been allowed to see his daughters in prison since the start of the pandemic, his wife said on Sept. 1. The renowned politician was barred from meeting with his daughters under the pretense of pandemic precautions, despite all safety measures being in place, Başak Demirtaş said.
The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) has slammed prison conditions in Turkey, urging authorities to take "decisive action" against ill-treatment of police. The problem of prison overcrowding remained acute, the CPT said, and the steady increase in the size of the prison population already observed in the mid-2000s continued.
The Van branch of the Human Rights Association (İHD) has determined that three penal facilities in the eastern province are guilty of numerous rights violations. Cleaning materials were found to be limited and insufficient while prisoners were only able to access gloves, masks, disinfectant and wet napkins by purchasing them at high prices.
Imprisoned columnist from daily Yeni Çağ is being refused healthcare despite his grievances, his lawyer said. The journalist has reportedly been refused a visit to the infirmary for 20 days, and one to the doctor in 10 days.
The wife of an inmate diagnosed with cancer and coronavirus has urged the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to release her husband. "This means he has been abandoned to die. I am calling upon the public, the Presidency, and the Ministry of Health: Release my husband right away. There are thousands of [coronavirus] patients in jail, their voices must be heard. People are coming face to face with death at the moment,” she said.
A parliamentary question inquiring about the number of personal applications made to the Justice Ministry about prison torture incidents was left unanswered. Instead, the Justice Ministry noted the existence of a committee that "meticulously inspects" and "swiftly takes necessary" action about torture incidents.
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.
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.
Turkey began releasing prisoners under tight security on April 15 after passing a bill on releasing thousands of convicts and arrestees to ease overcrowding in prisons in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). A day earlier, Erdoğan praised the law over "meeting the expectations of the citizens at a higher rate regarding the manifestation of justice," despite criticism of it for leaving politicians and journalists out.
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.