CHP lawmaker submits parliamentary questions regarding human rights violations in Turkish prisons

Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Özcan Purçu in a parliamentary question addressing the Turkish Ministry of Justice demanded to know whether the ministry was investigating allegations of mistreatment and torture in prisons, Turkish media reported.

According to Purçu, as the number of inmates in Turkish prisons has increased, living conditions have worsened. “Prisons need to comply with certain standards for inmates to live decently. Although these people have been deprived of their freedom, they still deserve respect for their rights. A prisoner can never be subjected to inhumane, humiliating or degrading treatment,” he said.

Purçu added that basic human rights were continuously violated in Turkish prisons. “For example, inmates are kept in overcrowded cells, and in some prisons they have to sleep on the floor because there aren’t enough beds,” he said.

Purçu asked whether the ministry had information on which prisons housed more inmates than their capacity. He asked if the ministry was aware that in some prisons power cuts had become common.

Pointing out that some prisons had fallen into disrepair and were freezing cold during the winter, Purçu asked if the ministry had plans to renovate these buildings.

Prisons have also been under fire for neglecting sick prisoners. Inmates have complained that they were not taken to the hospital in a timely manner and that their treatments were delayed. A number of inmates said they were not able to receive medication prescribed by their doctors, and in many prisons inmates could not get dental treatment.

Purçu asked whether these claims were true and if prisons were careful to provide proper healthcare to chronically sick inmates. “How many people requested to be taken to a hospital in the past year, and how many of these requests were granted?” he asked.

Three critically sick inmates died in the first three months of this year in prison. Kurdish inmate Abdo Baran, 80, who was suffering from end-stage colon cancer, died in March in southeastern Turkey’s Mardin province after being denied release from prison to seek proper treatment.

Eighty-two-year-old philanthropist with Alzheimer’s disease Yusuf Bekmezci died in February amid calls for his immediate release from prison.

Nusret Muğla, an 84-year-old ailing man who was serving a sentence on conviction of links to the Gülen movement, passed away in February after contracting COVID-19 in prison.

Purçu also demanded to know if the ministry had started any formal investigations into recent mistreatment allegations that have sparked public outrage. “Is it true that mistreatment is common in prisons? If so, has the ministry conducted any investigations into these claims, and has any prison staff been held accountable for mistreatment?” he asked.

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.

An annual report by Amnesty International (AI) on the state of human rights in the world revealedthat serious and credible allegations of torture and other ill-treatment were made in Turkey last year.

In its annual human rights report on Turkey, the US Department of State listed credible reports of arbitrary killings, suspicious deaths of persons in custody, forced disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrest and the continued detention of tens of thousands of persons for purported ties to “terrorist” groups or peaceful legitimate speech as being among the significant human rights issues in the country.

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