Turkish prison authority downplays strip search claims, says they're as 'used on exception'

Turkey's prisons authority downplayed the use of strip searches in prisons and said that the expression "strip search" in the law corresponds to a "detailed search," which the agency said is used on exception. However, thousands of prisoners have come out with stories of sexual violence in recent days, as the systematic use of strip searches in prisons was exposed.

Duvar English

Turkey's Correctional and Detention Facilities Directorate General said that searches that leave the subject entirely naked are not in their regulations despite thousands of statements from current and former prisoners saying they experienced them. 

Pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu recently exposed that strip searches have become systematic in Turkish prisons, prompting thousands of people to reveal their traumatic experiences.

"A 'strip search' in the code is a thorough search, but does not include leaving the prisoner or detainee completely naked," the Turkish Prison Authority (CTE) said in a Dec. 21 statement. 

By downplaying the strip searches testified to by thousands of prisoners as "detailed searches," the prison authority downplayed the commonality of the practice. 

"Detailed searches in correctional facilities are a precautionary procedure that is used on exception, and that is accepted by international organizations and practiced by states around the world." 

The CTE cited Turkish legislation that allows strip searches if there exists "reasonable doubt" that the incoming person is carrying illegal contraband, but statements from survivors have pointed to a much more frequent practice. 

"Detailed searches are conducted in a manner that will not violate the detainee's shame, in a private room allocated for searches, with two officers of the same sex," the CTE said in their statements, but survivors have described experiences on the contrary and which were highly traumatizing for them.