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Turkish prisons over capacity after coup attempt, director says

Turkey’s general director of prisons and houses of detention, Enis Yavuz Yıldırım, said on Friday that the country’s prisons are now over capacity with nearly 40,000 new arrests following a failed coup attempt on July 15.

While explaining about the need for a “quick reaction force” in Turkish prisons, Yıldırım added that there are prisoners who are engaging in cannibalism. “There are some 330 prisoners categorized as ‘dangerous prisoners’,” he said.

According to information shared by Yıldırım at the Human Rights Commission in the Parliament on Friday, there are nearly 195,000 prisoners in 372 prisons across Turkey, which is 4 percent more than maximum capacity.

Yıldırım also said that of the nearly 40,000 people jailed since July 15, 34,000 of them have been arrested over links to the Gülen movement, whose sympathizers are accused by the Turkish government of masterminding the failed coup.

Speaking on the condition of prisons across Turkey, Yıldırım said that strip searches have been routine in Turkish prisons since 2013 and that he is willing to adopt a better system if suggested by authorities. Speaking on the rise of suicides in Turkish prisons, Yıldırım told committee members that Turkey’s suicide rate in prisons is lower than the European average.

“Nowhere in the world can there be precautions to prevent prisoners from committing suicide. We are trying our best to do so. However, recently a prosecutor [arrested on coup charges] committed suicide by using a self-fashioned rope,” he said.

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