Justice minister: No maltreatment or torture in Turkish prisons

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Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ

Contrary to what national and international human rights organizations have reported, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ stated on Sunday that there is no maltreatment or torture in Turkish prisons.

Responding to claims of mistreatment and torture in Turkey, the justice minister said in a serial of Twitter messages that “they are not giving Turkey time to answer the claims. They refuse to accept Turkey’s statements; they only accuse Turkey.” Bozdağ called on those who allege torture in Turkey to prove it.

Human rights group Amnesty International reported on July 24 that it had received credible evidence of detainees in Turkey being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape, since a failed coup on July 15.

In a similar statement in September a member of Turkey’s Human Rights Association (İHD), lawyer Gülseren Yoleri, said there is torture in Turkey’s detention centers and that torture devices that were used during coup periods in the past have been put to use again during emergency rule.

In September the Turkish government postponed the scheduled visit of Juan E. Mendez, the UN special rapporteur on torture, to the county, which has been beset by allegations of torture, maltreatment and rape against detainees in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt.

The postponement came just weeks after Turkey’s National Police Department was accused of having removed evidence of torture and ill-treatment of post-coup detainees prior to the official visit of a delegation from the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT).

In a classified letter widely circulated in media outlets, the acting deputy head of the Turkish National Police warned all officers about the visit and ordered them to avoid using sports facilities as detention centers during the delegation’s stay in the country.

The official also asked police officers to obey international rules of detention while the delegation was in Turkey and ordered them to reorganize all detention centers and to make the centers ready for the inspection as soon as possible.

Confirming the claims, Selçuk Kozağaçlı, the president of the Progressive Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD), said during the Ankara Bar Association’s general assembly on Oct. 16 that people imprisoned as part of a government crackdown on the Gülen movement are being systematically tortured in the most barbaric ways including rape, removal of nails and the insertion of objects into their anuses.

“They remove the nails of colleagues [during detention] at police stations. Believe me, I saw people who underwent a colostomy after they were tortured with objects inserted into their anuses in prison and police stations,” said Selçuk Kozağaçlı.

İHD said in a report on Oct. 21 that there are nearly 220,000 people in Turkey’s prisons, which is more than 20 percent above the 183,000-person capacity.

According to the İHD report, Turkish prisons rapidly became overwhelmed by detentions and arrests that followed the failed coup in Turkey on July 15.

More than 70,000 people have been detained and 35,000 jailed as part of the witch hunt against the Gülen movement following the coup attempt.

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