Inmates held in Menemen Prison in the western Turkish province of İzmir have been subjected to torture in padded cells, according to the wife of an inmate, the Duvar news website reported.
Dilruba Bozkurt said she noticed her husband, Cüneyt Bozkurt, was increasingly silent during her visits and that he stopped talking about his problems in prison.
Bozkurt said her husband told her during their latest phone call that he had sent her a note with three of his cellmates who had been released.
“They told me they were taken to a padded call and subjected to maltreatment,” she said. “They were continuously threatened by the guards who told them if they did not do everything they said, they would be forced into the padded cell.”
She added that her husband was under significant psychological pressure from the guards. “His friends said the guards were inflicting psychological pressure to make them break from the strain so they could take them to the padded cell,” she said.
Bozkurt said the reports were unacceptable and called on authorities to explain what was going on in the prison.
Human rights activist and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu submitted a parliamentary question regarding the reports of torture in padded cells. He asked Justice Minister AbduAlhamit Gül if the ministry had any information on these cells and if there was an investigation into the guards in question.
Prison authorities had said that the padded rooms were for inmates with psychological issues, so they would not harm themselves. Since the rooms were padded with foam, they provided sound isolation. Inmates have claimed that these rooms have been used for torture in recent years.
There have been widespread claims of torture in Turkey’s prisons and detention centers that have so far gone uninvestigated.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul deputy and human rights defender Sezgin Tanrıkulu submitted a parliamentary question regarding torture in prisons.
The Justice Ministry answered Tanrıkulu’s question almost a year after its submission but in vague and general terms, saying that torture allegations were investigated but failing to provide the number of prisoners who have filed torture and abuse claims.
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.