93 inmates have died in Turkish prisons in the last 17 months: report

Ninety-three inmates have died in Turkish prisons since January 2022, the Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) reported, citing data from the Human Rights Association (İHD).

Fifteen inmates have died in Turkish prisons this year and 78 in 2022, the İHD report, which was based on information received by lawyers and families of these inmates, said.

According to the İHD, seven prisoners have died of serious illness since January and eight died under suspicious circumstances.

Most recently Behçet Kaplan, 31, an inmate who suffered from stomach cancer, died in a prison in Turkey’s eastern province of Bitlis.

In February three inmates died during the suppression of prison riots in southern Hatay and Kahramanmaraş provinces that were triggered by massive earthquakes on February 6.

After an abortive putsch in 2016, ill-treatment and torture became widespread and systematic in Turkish detention centers. Lack of condemnation from higher officials and a readiness to cover up allegations rather than investigate them have resulted in widespread impunity for the security forces.

According to the İHD report, there are 1,517 sick inmates in prisons, 651 of whom are critically ill. 

Although most of the seriously ill patients have forensic and medical reports deeming them unfit to remain in prison, they are not released. Authorities refuse to free them on the grounds that they pose a potential danger to society.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu earlier criticized the Justice Ministry for not providing further information on these cases, saying, “What is incredibly concerning is that deaths as a result of ‘medical neglect’ are considered completely normal.” 

Human rights activists and opposition politicians have frequently criticized authorities for not releasing seriously ill prisoners so they can seek proper treatment. 

There are a total of 326,960 inmates in Turkish prisons, of whom 283,561 are serving time and 43,399 are jailed pending trial. Of these 311,322 are men, 13,190 are women and 2,448 are minors, according to the Directorate General of Prisons and Houses of Detention (CTE).

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