Families call on ministry for conditional release of prisoners in provinces hit by earthquake

The families of prisoners held in the provinces of southeastern Turkey hit by a deadly February 6 earthquake have called on the Ministry of Justice for the conditional release of their family members, the Gazete Duvar news website reported.

The families pointed out that there have been serious communication problems between inmates and their families since the earthquake occurred.

Turkey’s most powerful earthquake in almost 100 years, which struck near the city of Gaziantep in the early hours of February 6, has claimed the lives of 35,000 people in Turkey in addition to injuring more than 80,000. Close to 60,000 disaster victims have been evacuated from the region so far, according to the latest official figures.

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake was followed by dozens of aftershocks, including a 7.5-magnitude temblor that jolted the region in the middle of search and rescue efforts the same day.

Haluk Çavuşoğlu, chairman of the Fair Life Association, founded by the families of inmates, said many prisoners and their relatives could not make contact due to communication problems after the earthquake.

”In previous major earthquakes, prisoners were allowed to participate in rescue efforts and other work in the earthquake zone, with the parliament of the time passing a special law to facilitate this. On behalf of the family members of prisoners, we request permission for prisoners to immediately be conditionally released at such a difficult time,” he said.

According to Article 94 of the Turkish Law on the Execution of Punishments and Security Measures, special permission may be granted to prisoners if they can prove that they or their families have been harmed by disasters such as earthquakes, floods or fires. However, this permission requires the approval of the prison administration, the chief public prosecutor and the Ministry of Justice.

Turkey is in one of the world’s most active earthquake zones.

The country’s last 7.8-magnitude temblor was in 1939, when 33,000 died in eastern Erzincan province.

Turkey’s Marmara region suffered a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in 1999, leading to the death of more than 17,000 people.

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