Turkish NGO says it received coronavirus-related complaints from 26 prisons

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Silivri Prison in Istanbul.

The Civil Society Association for the Department of Corrections (CISST) has said that from March 20 to 24 it received complaints from 26 prisons related to COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus, according to the Diken news website.

Turkey has not confirmed any cases in correctional institutions, and Minister of Justice Abdülhamit Gül last week said no one in prison has tested positive.

While Gül insisted that the government is “taking great care for the well-being of inmates,” the prisoners who wrote to CISST complained about overcrowding in cell blocks and the inability to observe social distancing.

In addition, prisoners have to gather in large numbers in shared areas such as dining halls, according to the complaints.

Some prisons lack disinfection materials and masks for guards. The inmates are not provided with masks or gloves, either.

Cleaning supplies and detergent are sold in canteens and not provided without cost, which leaves those with limited financial means deprived of them.

Another issue that was raised is the availability of water, of which inmates frequently face cuts.

No measures were taken for people in high risk groups who continued to be held in the same cell blocks as those returning from excused absences from prisons.

The prisoners also highlighted a lack of examinations by doctors. They said only temperatures are being taken; however, even those with a fever of 38.5 degrees Celsius are not tested for COVID-19.

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