Ömer Çelik, the spokesperson for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said that “amnesty is not on the immediate agenda” of the ruling party after the government’s ultranationalist ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), drafted a proposal to introduce amnesty for most convicts subject to certain exceptions.
“We maintain the position we had previously announced. We do not have amnesty on our agenda,” Çelik said following the AKP’s top executive board meeting on Wednesday, according to a report by the pro-government Hürriyet Daily News.
His comment came as the MHP completed the preparation of a draft bill granting amnesty to most convicts in Turkish prisons. The bill was part of the party’s election manifesto, which sparked a debate among the opposition.
President Erdoğan said during the recent election campaign that his party was not considering an amnesty.
The MHP’s eight-article amnesty bill excludes prisoners convicted on charges of alleged membership in a terror organization and the Gülen movement. It also excludes granting amnesty to inmates convicted on charges of child abuse and and the murder of a woman in a domestic abuse cases.
A report drafted by Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in early May 2018 revealed that the prison population in Turkey has increased by 285 percent during the rule of the AKP and that serious human rights violations are taking place in these prisons.
The report, based on data from Turkey’s Justice Ministry, was prepared by CHP Deputy Chairman Tekin Bingöl, who is responsible for human rights issues for the party.
According to the report, there are currently 228,993 people in Turkey’s prisons, 140,248 of whom have been convicted of a crime, while 88,745 are in pre-trial detention. These figures show that the prison population in Turkey has increased by 285 percent since the AKP came to power in 2002.
Due to the high prison population and lack of adequate space for prisoners, more than 20,000 inmates sleep in shifts, the report said.