Turkey's top court fines state over denial of communication to jailed spouses

Turkey's Constitutional Court has ordered the state to pay compensation to a prisoner after he was barred from telephoning his wife, jailed in another prison, for a period of 15 months. The top court said that the state had violated the “right to respect for family life.”

Duvar English

Turkey's Constitutional Court has ruled that authorities had violated the rights of a jailed married couple by not letting them speak to each other on the phone, ANKA news agency reported on Dec. 31.

The decision concerns the application of F.B. who is currently imprisoned in the Black Sea province of Tokat. In order to speak with his wife, who is jailed at another prison, F.B. gave a petition to the prison management on July 27, 2018.

After his demand was turned down, F.B. took his case to a local court, which rejected the application. F.B. this time lodged an application with the Constitutional Court, which ruled that the applicant's “right to respect for family life” had been violated.

The top court also ordered the state to pay 10,000 liras in non-pecuniary damages to F.B. It said that the applicant was denied his right for a period of 15 months.

“Even they are in different jails, the state is obliged to ensure a minimum level of communication between imprisoned spouses,” the top court said, indicating that prison administrations might listen to these conversations if they see it as appropriate.

Serious rights violations are reported to be occurring in Turkish jails, with human rights defenders pointing to a lack of adequate monitoring mechanism.

The applications filed by lawyers and human rights institutions are usually ignored, with the judicial investigation leading to a deadlock in most of the cases.