Turkish gov’t spends about $3,5 billion on prisons in last three years

Turkey has spent $3,4 billion on prisons in the past three years, over five times the amount spent on research and development for education, according to a report by online news outlet ABC news, citing a 2017 report by Turkey’s Court of Accounts Directorate.

The 2017 Annual Fiscal Statistics Evaluation report revealed that Turkey spent 5,6 billion Turkish lira from the state treasury for prisons in 2015; 6,7 billion Turkish lira in 2016; and more than 8,9 billion Turkish lira in 2017.

The government, in contrast, spent more than 3.8 billion Turkish lira on education, less than a fifth the amount spent on prisons, in the same three-year period, the report found.

Turkey, which has the third-highest per capita prison population in Europe, witnessed an increase of 161,7 percent in its prison population between 2006-2016, according to a Council of Europe (CoE) report.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) last year announced plans to build 228 more prison facilities in order to increase Turkey’s prison capacity by 137,687 in five years, after detaining tens of thousands of teachers, lawyers, students, judges and other officials as part of a crackdown on dissent following a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.

“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organization,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016, that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed about 170,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. On December 13, 2017, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018, that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016, and April 11, 2018, over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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