Strip-search is an ongoing practice in a prison in the northwestern Turkish province of Edirne, human rights defender and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu tweeted on Wednesday.
According to Gergerlioğlu, female inmates are ordered to undress and squat, and prison guards touch their breasts and other parts of their bodies. “They [female inmates] are being subjected to sexual harassment in prison,” he said.
Gergerlioğlu also called on Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ to end the practice of strip-search in prisons.
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.
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 were indeed 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 January 2022 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.