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Alarming Human Rights Violations in Turkish Prisons: 968 Incidents in 11 Facilities Over 3 Months

The Human Rights Association (İHD), Istanbul Branch Prisons Commission, prepared a 3-month report on the human rights violations they received applications for from prisons in the Marmara Region in Turkey as well as other regions. İHD presented the “Marmara Region Prisons Human Rights Violations Report,” covering the months of April, May, and June, to the public in a press conference held at the association’s headquarters.

During the press conference, attended by İHD Istanbul Branch Prisons Commission members Mehmet Acettin and lawyer Jiyan Tosun, the report was read by İHD Istanbul Branch President Gülseren Yoleri.

30 APPLICATIONS FROM 11 PRISONS

According to the report, compiled from faxes and letters sent by detainees, as well as applications made through their families, lawyers, and media monitoring, a total of 30 applications were made from 11 prisons in April, May, and June 2023. The report noted that 3 of these applications were made for legal reasons, while 27 were due to political reasons, with each application containing multiple violations.

The report stated that there were a total of 726 human rights violations, with 298 in April, 186 in May, and 242 in June. Additionally, 242 violations were documented through media monitoring. The report highlighted that a total of 968 violations occurred within the 3-month period.

4 DEATHS IN PRISONS

The report documented a total of 726 violations in Marmara Region prisons, including “attacks on the right to life” (4 cases), “torture, abuse, mistreatment, and degrading treatment” (297 cases), “violation of the right to health” (105 cases), “unjust imprisonment, execution of prisoners, and lack of fair trial” (36 cases), “violation of the right to access justice” (41 cases), “violations of communication rights/isolation” (183 cases), “violation of the right to adequate and clean nutrition and access to clean water, failure to meet self-care needs” (60 cases). The report also highlighted information obtained through the media, including 242 cases, including 4 deaths.

The report also revealed that the lawyers of Abdullah Öcalan, who has been held in Imralı F Type High-Security Prison and has not been heard from for 29 months, had their 35 visitation requests denied within the past 3 months.

WOMEN, CHILDREN, AND PATIENTS LEFT UNPROTECTED AGAINST VIOLATIONS The report drew attention to the increasing problems arising from overcrowding in prisons, discriminatory approaches, and practices. It emphasized that vulnerable groups such as “children staying with their mothers, foreigners, women, LGBT+, children, elderly, disabled, and sick prisoners” were not adequately protected against human rights violations. The report mentioned that at least 4 detainees had died in prisons this year and highlighted incidents of suicide and suspicious deaths related to illnesses.

A FEMALE INMATE COMMITTED SUICIDE IN KANDIRA

The report also shared an application made on April 1 by detainees M.Ş., Z.K., H.K., and M.R.A. at Kandira F Type Prison. In their application, the detainees stated that they had heard about the suicide of a female inmate who was allegedly suffering from schizophrenia on March 20-21, 2023, at Kandira F Type Prison No. 1. However, they were not provided with detailed information about the identity and situation of the fellow inmate who took her own life. The detainees urged for an investigation into the conditions and practices of the prison administration regarding the incident.

VIOLATIONS OF THE RIGHT TO ACCESS HEALTHCARE CONTINUE

Gülseren Yoleri, the President of İHD Istanbul Branch, emphasized that all applications revealed violations of the right to health and medical treatment. She stated that problems persist at every stage, such as delays or lack of hospital referrals, the absence of doctors or specialist physicians in prison infirmaries, forced strip searches, the presence of soldiers during examinations, irregular provision of medications, lack of information provided to prisoners and their families regarding health and treatment, adverse conditions of prison wards, lack of dental treatments, negative reports from the Forensic Medicine Institute regarding seriously ill prisoners, failure to fulfill requests for special diets, and the use of ring vehicles instead of ambulances for emergencies. She also highlighted unethical practices by healthcare staff.

DEMANDS

Yoleri pointed out that oppression and torture have become “routine” in prisons, with practices such as strip searches and mouth searches becoming common, as well as the increasing use of swearing, insults, threats, and degrading treatment. She stressed that in order to achieve a permanent solution to the problems in accordance with domestic law, the Constitution, United Nations Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Mandela Rules), and international human rights documents, it is the responsibility of the state to protect the health and life rights of all prisoners, especially seriously ill prisoners and those in risk groups, by taking immediate preventive measures and ensuring their release for the protection of their health and life rights. She called for an end to the increasingly widespread and entrenched policy of isolation, and an immediate cessation of torture, mistreatment, arbitrary bans, and practices.

Yoleri reminded the state of its responsibilities and stressed that their report aims to draw public attention to the problems in prisons and prevent human rights violations. She called for sensitivity and solidarity regarding the issues faced by inmates in prisons.

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