Haşim Gezer, the brother of Garibe Gezer, who was found dead in a prison cell in December, said his sister was beaten and sexually harassed by prison guards in Kocaeli’s Kandıra Prison, the Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) reported.
In a letter sent to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Haşim, an inmate in Elazığ Prison, said Garibe told him in a phone call how she was abused physically and sexually by prison guards.
Garibe told her brother she was put in a padded cell where she was stripped in front of male guards, beaten, sexually harassed and left without medical treatment.
Garibe was found dead in her cell on December 9. The prison administration claimed she hung herself in a cell where she was incarcerated alone.
She had attempted suicide before but was put in a solitary cell despite that. She was also interrogated by the prosecutor’s office for talking about the mistreatment.
In October 22 female deputies from the HDP asked in a parliamentary question posed to Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül if an investigation had been launched into prison guards in the case. Human Rights Association (İHD) co-chair and lawyer Eren Keskin also filed a complaint the same month against the guards.
Speaking to Jinnews, Jiyan Tosun, another of Gezer’s lawyers, earlier said Garibe had attempted suicide before but was sent to a solitary cell without receiving any treatment. “They did not take any precautions for her despite our requests to the prosecutor’s office,” Tosun said. “We told them she shouldn’t be alone, but our requests were turned down.”
Tosun added that even if Gezer really took her own life, the prison administration was responsible for her death since they had failed to take the necessary measures to protect her.
There have been widespread claims of torture in Turkey’s prisons and detention centers that have so far gone uninvestigated.
Turkey is party to several international conventions that have different review and inspection mechanisms such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe (CoE) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. According to information published on the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, the country is currently party to 16 UN human rights conventions and 121 of the CoE’s 225 conventions and has signed 31 other conventions.
Yet, in the recent past the Turkish government has continuously disregarded the provisions of the constitution and failed to uphold its international obligations. For instance, Turkey has for four years blocked the publication of a report by a Council of Europe delegation that paid a fact-finding visit to Turkey in 2016 to investigate allegations of torture and ill treatment in Turkish correctional facilities.
Investigators with the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) interviewed various individuals in prison and recorded their stories in a report that was compiled after the visit. However, the details were never made public because Turkey vetoed the publication of the report. CPT President Mykola Gnatovskyy stated in 2017 that even though he “[wanted] to discuss the findings,” he could not comment on the report due to Ankara’s decision.