CISST report finds Turkish prisons do not accommodate foreign inmates 

A new report by the Civil Society in the Penal System (CISST) said foreign inmates in Turkish prisons were facing many difficulties, including a lack of access to basic facilities, the Bianet news website reported

According to the report, inmates who practice religions other than Islam are not provided with pastoral service. Furthermore, for inmates who do not speak Turkish, the language barrier remains a big problem. These inmates are not provided with any psychological support during their prison time. 

Many foreign inmates feel isolated in prison as they find it difficult to socialize. Moreover, they are not allowed to meet with their countries’ diplomatic representatives on a regular basis. 

CISST advised Turkish authorities to conduct thorough research into the needs of foreign inmates and to find solutions. “It is critically important that authorities develop customized solutions to each demographic group and allow for diplomatic representatives to be part of this process. While prison staff are sometimes unable to cope with problems associated with foreign prisoners, it is important that they seek the help of civil society organizations,” said the report. 

It added that in some prisons where there are a high number of foreigners, prison administrations should appoint a coordinator whose main responsibility is to attend to problems and needs specific to this group. This could at least solve basic communication problems.

Prison conditions are notoriously poor in Turkey, with overcrowding one of the main problems. Hygiene and access to basic healthcare have been longstanding problems even for Turkish prisoners, and prisons have yet to accommodate the needs of inmates with special needs. They also do not accommodate the needs of mothers with young children and infants nor the needs of the sick and disabled

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