NGO report on Turkey’s prisons shed lights on widespread mistreatment, rights violations

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The Human Rights Association (İHD), one of Turkey’s leading advocacy groups, has released its 2023 report on prisons, stating that at least 23,899 rights violations occurred behind bars throughout the year.

The report, which was released over the weekend at a press conference, documented rights violations reported by inmates, their lawyers, or family members. Alleged violations were reported from 147 facilities in 50 provinces, with at least 17,218 incidents of torture and ill-treatment, including beatings, threats, insults, and strip-searches.

The report also highlighted arbitrary restrictions on outdoor activities, damage to personal belongings during ward searches, and limitations on communication with the outside world. The İHD expressed concern that the release of at least 426 eligible prisoners was delayed by newly instituted prison monitoring boards, which have been criticized for their discretionary powers in granting parole and their denials based on arbitrary criteria such as “lack of remorse.”

Additionally, the report cited obstruction of access to healthcare and violations of privacy.

According to the İHD, as of May 2nd, there were 329,000 inmates. This highlights the ongoing issue of overcrowding in prisons, despite plans to build new facilities. It represents a significant increase of 78,000 in the past eight months.

Turkey remains the leader in the number of prisoners in Europe, according to the 2022 Council of Europe (CoE) Annual Penal Statistics on Prison Populations report. In January 2022 Turkey accounted for over a third of all prisoners in CoE member states, having experienced a surge of 369 percent in its prison population between 2005 and 2022.

Source:Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF)

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