CoE’s annual report shows record increase in Turkish prison population

Photo: Archive

Data released in an annual Council of Europe (CoE) report has revealed an explosion in the prison population of Turkey, with a record increase of 161.7 percent between 2006-2016.

The SPACE report, released on Tuesday shows that Turkey had the second highest proportion of prisoners out of the 47 participating member states of the CoE with 244.6 per 100,000 inhabitants, after Georgia, with 256.3. The average was just over 127 per 100,000 people.

Turkey also had a very high ratio of detainees who had not received final sentences, with 90.7 per 100,000 inhabitants, equalling 37.1 percent of total detainees. Turkey’s ratio was significantly greater than the average, 27 per 100,000 inhabitants, and second only to Albania’s at 103.2 per 100,000.

The annual report, which was co-authored by the CoE and the University of Lausanne, covers data during the period ending Sept. 1, 2016.

The figures, therefore, may have been influenced by arrests carried out during a state of emergency in effect since a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, and may not accurately reflect current figures after a further year of emergency rule.

At 27.8 percent, the highest number of custodial sentences are handed out in Turkey for those convicted of theft. Drug offences make up 23.9 percent of custodial sentences, then homicide at 22.2 percent. The daily expenses per inmate in Turkish prisons at 21 euros is far below the European average of 108.59 euros.

Some other data given by the report are as follows:

The participation rate in SPACE I 2016 was 90 percent. Forty-seven out of 52 prison administrations of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe took part.

On September 1, 2016, 859,102 persons were held in the penal institutions of the 47 prison administrations that participated in this survey, which is 18,454 more inmates than in 2015 (representing an increase of 2.2 percent).

The total number of European inmates rises to 1,505,187 when estimates of the inmates held in the Russian Federation are included. In 2015, that total was slightly lower (1,483,118 inmates).

The median European Prison Population Rate [PPR] increased by 1 percent from 2015 to 2016. In 2015 the median PPR was 115.7 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants and in 2016 it was 117.1 per 100,000 inhabitants.

The median density in European penal institutions in 2016 was 91.6 inmates per 100 places; 27.7 percent of European prisons were experiencing overcrowding.

In 2016, 13 European Prison Administrations [PA] were facing overcrowding issues, two less than in 2015. In 2016, 11 of the PA with overcrowded prisons were the same as in 2015.

Countries that had the most overcrowded penal institutions in 2016: FYRO Macedonia, Hungary, Cyprus, Belgium and France.

The median proportion of female inmates in the total prison population was 5.3 percent, about the same value as in 2015 (5.2 percent).

The median amount spent by 1 inmate/day during 2015 was €51, which is €9 less than in 2014. The amounts spent in 2015 ranged from almost €6/day in Moldova to €359in Sweden. €18,.83 billion was the total amount spent by the European Prison Administrations during 2015.

A slight decrease in short custodial sentences (less than 1 year) was observed across Europe in 2016. On September 1, 2016, 13.3 percent of the total number of sentenced prisoners were serving short custodial sentences. In 2015, they represented 13.5 percent. Short sentences occupy fourth position in the ranking of applicable prison terms.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on March 15, 2018 that at least 402,000 people have been the subject of legal proceedings initiated by the Turkish government over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 2, 2017. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.”

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