Report: Turkish government keeps 2,800 children behind the bars

It is reported on the occasion of November 20 Children’s Rights Day that Turkish government has kept 2,800 children behind the bars across Turkey, according to the statistics given by Turkish Justice Ministry.

According to the data given by Justice Ministry, there are 2,800 child prisoners between the ages of 12-18 in Turkey as of April 7, 2017. 1,778 of the child prisoners (1,715 boys, 63 girls) are arrested and 1,022 of them (994 boys, 28 girls) are convicted.

Moreover, according to the Child Prisoners Report prepared by the Civil Society Association in Penal Execution System (CISST) and Turkey’s Center for Prison Studies (TCPS), the number of children sentenced to prison by Juvenile Courts and Juvenile Assize Courts has doubled in the last seven years. While there were 5,728 children sentenced to prison in 2009, the figure reached 12,423 in 2016.

The same report has also showed there were 92 complaints launched in the last 10 years against torture and maltreatment in juvenile prisons, but in only one case, the suspect was found guilty and sentenced to prison.

According to a report by Bianet, the CISST/TCPS have issued 111-page “Child Prisoners Report” addressing the claims of violence cases, rights violations against child prisoners, applications lodged against these to information and monitoring mechanism and the results of these applications.

The report pointed out that since NGOs were not allowed make any observations in prisons by visits, the report had to be prepared on the basis of data, acquired by mail correspondence with the prisoners, visits by attorneys, research through media coverage of prisons, or cases of children rights violations reported to CISST/TCPS, other rights organizations, independent lawyers as well as to information and monitoring mechanism with regards to rights violations.

The report draws attention to the fact that complaints lodged against torture and maltreatment ended up with no punishment and informed that in the last 10 years, there were 92 applications lodged to complain against torture or maltreatment.

The report has also demonstrated that between March 2009 and March 2017, 18 children have lost their lives behind bars. Ten out of these 18 children were under arrest. Between November 2015 – June 2017, 6 children lost their lives in prisons. Five of these children died due to fire that broke out in their wards. The other child committed suicide in the prison.

The number of babies and children aged between 0 to 6, who are being held in Turkish prisons along with their parents, rose from 560 to 668, according to the most recent data given by the Turkish government.

As a reply to Turkey’s main opposition Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) deputy Gamze İlgezdi’s question motion, Turkish Justice Ministry has stated that the number of children staying along with their mothers behind bars has hit 668 as of July 4, 2017. The corresponding number was 560 in April.

Out of 668, 149 are aged between 0 and 12 months; 140 children are 1-year-old; 124 children are 2 years old; 117 children are 3 years old; 77 children are 4 years old; 44 children are 5 years old; 6 children are 6 years old; while age of the remaining 11 are unknown, the ministry said.

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