Conditions in Kayseri Bünyan and Tarsus prisons dismal, says parliamentary Human Rights Committee

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The Turkish Parliament’s Human Rights Committee has said in a report that conditions in Tarsus and Kayseri Bünyan prisons were dismal and needed major improvements, the Bianet news website reported.

The report was based on the observations of committee members who visited both prisons in November 2021. According to the report, quarantine cells were filthy and did not have separate bathrooms or toilets. Many cells were infested with cockroaches.

In Tarsus Prison, water was frequently cut off, hot water was not provided and cells were often flooded. Additionally inmates were undernourished, and food prices in the prison canteen were high.

In many cases inmates put off hospital visits although they were sick, just to avoid the quarantine cells upon their return.

The report said Kayseri Bünyan Prison did not have a dentist and that inmates could not get dental treatment. Moreover, inmates were seldom taken to the hospital in the event of a medical problem, and many were insulted and humiliated by guards.

According to the report, inmates were subjected to arbitrary strip-searches. If women resisted these searches, they were mistreated and sometimes beaten.

According to Turkish legal and preventative search regulations, strip-searches can only be conducted in exceptional cases, such as when there are credible indications that the person has contraband materials on their person. In such cases, the search must be conducted in a manner so as not to humiliate the person and as quickly as possible. When there is a credible suspicion that something is hidden in the person’s body, officers are required to ask the person to remove it himself and inform him that if he disobeys, the removal will be done by the prison doctor.

However, the testimony of an increasing number of women shows that Turkish prison guards use strip-searches unlawfully and systematically to humiliate them.

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