A report drafted by the Diyarbakır Bar Association has revealed that there has been a significant increase in the number of rights violations in Turkey’s prisons during a state of emergency that was declared in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in July 2016 and is still in effect.
The report, which was prepared by the Diyarbakır Bar Association’s Prisons Monitoring Commission following inspections of 20 prisons across Turkey, was made public at a news conference at bar association headquarters on Friday.
Commission members interviewed 92 inmates during the drafting process of the report between Dec. 20, 2016 and Dec. 31, 2017 during which they paid visits to the 20 prisons more than 40 times.
Diyarbakır Bar Association executive board member Muhammed Neşet Girasun, who spoke at the news conference, said the commission prepared 18 separate reports, which were then merged, detailing rights violations discovered in Turkey’s prisons.
Girasun said the commission categorized the rights violations under subtitles, such as prevention of the right to access medical care, prevention of the right to defense and rights violations concerning the physical conditions of the prisons as well as the attitude of the prison administration, rights violations related to writing a petition and communication, maltreatment, torture, rights violations experienced by the inmates’ relatives and rights violations experienced by juvenile inmates and children who are jailed with their mothers.
More than 700 children, mostly infants, toddlers and newborn babies, are in prison with mothers who were arrested on coup charges in the aftermath of the coup attempt in 2016.
At the news conference Girasun said the children who are jailed with their mothers are the group that is exposed to the highest number of rights violations in prisons. He said these children are negatively influenced by the physical and the psychological circumstances in the penal institutions.
With regard to rights violations experienced by adult inmates, he said during transfers to the other prisons some inmates are handcuffed from behind and subjected to verbal and physical attacks from prison employees; cameras are being installed in the toilets and bathrooms used by the inmates; they are being forced to carry ID cards, which is not required under prison regulations; and some inmates are being arbitrarily held in cells known as sponge cells, which are covered with a spongy material and have cameras all around.
Girasun said the declaration of the state of emergency has led rights violations in Turkey’s prisons, which have existed for many years, to become more widespread and visible.