Mother and daughter allegedly subjected to strip-search in Amasya prison while visiting family member

The mother of an underage girl said she and her daughter were subjected to a strip-search on Friday while visiting her husband in Amasya E-Type Prison, in a letter to Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu.

In the letter, made public by Gergerlioğlu during a parliamentary press meeting on Monday, the anonymous woman said the incident had been traumatizing. “The guards shouted at us to remove our underwear, after which they started touching our genitals,” she said. “They also touched our breasts and made us stand naked. We have still not recovered from the encounter.”

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 him. 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.

Gergerlioğlu urged the authorities to immediately investigate the woman’s claims. “I have said countless times that strip-searches are unlawful,” he said at the press meeting. “Such incidents are a disgrace, and authorities have denied that strip-searches take place in prisons. However, we know for a fact that they are widespread and still practiced.”

The European Court of Human Rights has found strip searches to constitute degrading treatment when not justified by compelling security reasons and/or due to the way they were conducted.

But the practice has been used frequently by Turkish security forces, and some of the women said the officers conducting the search were laughing as they were undressing. Gergerlioğlu previously said strip-searches wereindeed conducted to humiliate detainees.

Moreover there have been reports that children as young as five have been subjected to strip-searches while visiting their fathers.

In early January the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) fined Turkey for violating the private and family life of a woman who was subjected to a strip-search in prison in 2013.

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