Meral Danış Bektaş, a deputy from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has proposed a bill that seeks to delay the execution of sentences given to mothers who have their small children with them in Turkish jails until the children reach age six.
According to data from Turkey’s General Directorate of Prisons and Detention Houses, there are currently around 700 children who are with their mothers in Turkey’s prisons.
The bill aims at these children growing up outside jail until they turn six years old. It is mentioned in the bill that children staying in jails with their mothers runs against the principle of individual criminal responsibility.
Bektaş told Turkish media outlets that although there are regulations in Turkish law addressing the situation of pregnant women when they commit a crime, there are no such regulations for women who have small children.
“Finding a solution for the children who do not know how to walk on the grass or play ball is urgent,” she said.
Mothers of most of the children in Turkish jails, who number more than 700 according to some sources, have been arrested as part of a government crackdown on followers of the Gülen movement in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, and most of them are in pre-trial detention and not yet convicted of a crime.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the failed coup, which claimed the lives of 249 people, although the movement strongly denies any involvement.
Around 17.000 women including pregnant women and women who have just given birth as well as those with small children have been jail due to alleged Gülen links since the botched coup.
According to data from the Turkish Justice Ministry concerning the number of children who are in jail with their mothers, there were 560 such children in 2016, 128 of whom were aged one, 114 aged two, 81 aged three, 70 aged four, 31 aged five and five of whom were aged six as well as 17 other children whose ages were not known by the authorities.