Inmates suffer from overcrowding and gross rights violations, says parliamentary committee

Inmates are experiencing gross rights violations and the negative effects of overcrowding in Turkish prisons, according to a report drafted by the Turkish Parliament’s Sub-committee on Prisoners’ Rights, the Duvar news website reported.

The report was based on the observations of committee members who visited the Düzce and Kırıkkale prisons. The committee found that inmates did not have access to clean water and that food was inadequate because the number of inmates far exceeded capacity.

The report also said the basic needs of inmates, and in some cases the children accompanying them, were not met. The prison administration charged them for basic furniture such as plastic chairs, and children were not provided with essential food items such as milk and eggs.

According to female inmates, their children were not provided with toys and they were deprived of prison daycare, which is the only place where they can play and  socialize. Some mothers said they were only allowed to leave their children in daycare once or twice a year.

The report said that in Düzce Prison there were not enough health-care personnel, which delayed the care of sick inmates.

There were no dentists at Kırıkkale Prison, and inmates were rarely taken to the hospital for dental care.

Sick inmates who did manage to get taken to a hospital were reportedly handcuffed to their beds. In the event the inmate refused to be handcuffed, they were taken back to prison without being treated.

Female inmates complained they were not given any privacy by male guards during physical examinations in the hospital. They also said their bodies were searched upon re-entry to the prison and that in some cases male guards participated.

According to Turkish legal and preventative search regulations, a search must be conducted in a manner so as not to humiliate the person and as quickly as possible.

Rights violations and mistreatment not only affected the inmates but also their families. Some family members said their visiting hours were arbitrarily restricted by the prison administration and that they were mistreated by guards during visits to the prison.

Inmates said they were not allowed to borrow certain books and newspapers from the library despite the fact that they weren’t banned. They also said they were put under psychological pressure by guards.

According to the report, the prison administration confiscated inmates’ radios in Kırıkkale Prison. In some cases prisoners were not allowed to use the computer room to write their defenses or petitions.

In the report the sub-committee requested that the authorities improve the conditions of both prisons, especially in terms of providing sufficient and nutritious food. They also asked that a dentist be allowed to visit the prisons periodically. The report in addition recommended improvements to better meet children’s needs and greater awareness of their physical and psychological requirements.

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