Report: Maltreatment, torture in Turkish prisons continue unabated

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Silivri Prison in Istanbul.

A report prepared by the Prison Commission of the Platform for Free Lawyers (ÖHP) has revealed that torture, maltreatment and rights violations are continuing to take place in Turkish prisons as previously reported by other organizations, a story in the Cumhuriyet daily said on Tuesday.

According to the ÖHP report, which covers the visit of commission members to prisons in Turkey’s Marmara region in March and April, “torture and maltreatment continue, many prisoners are kept in lockdown, searches in wards are made in the form of raids, sick prisoners are not taken to the hospital, meetings with families and lawyers are prevented, strip searches at the entrance of the prison are carried out and access to newspapers, books and letters is blocked.”

The lawyers noted that the rights violations resemble the systematic violations of the coup d’état eras.

Underlining that the physical conditions of the prisons are not appropriate for daily life, report says prisoners have difficulty with personal hygiene, access to fresh air and sunlight and heating.

The privacy of the lawyer-client relationship is violated by recording meetings between prisoners and their attorneys. Petitions concerning prison conditions sent by inmates to relevant institutions are either not mailed or answered with disciplinary proceedings against the writers.

Telephone calls are limited to once every two weeks for prisoners who are being tried for terrorism, and visits are limited only to family members. Letters written in Kurdish not mailed due to the lack of a translator.

The Evrensel, Birgün and Özgürlükçü Democrasi dailies are not allowed to be read by prisoners.

The report also revealed severe overcrowding: 23 prisoners stay in wards that have an eight-person capacity in Kandıra Prison, while 20 prisoners live in wards meant for 10 in Bandırma Prison. Prisons cells with a capacity of three people are used for six, and wards with a capacity of 28 are used for 37-38 prisoners in Silivri Prison.

A report drafted by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) earlier this month reveals that the prison population in Turkey has increased by 285 percent during the rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and that serious human rights violations are taking place in these prisons.

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