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Turkish release bill should not discriminate against political prisoners: Amnesty

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Amnesty International has published an online petition to Turkish authorities, urging them to avoid an exclusion of political prisoners from the scope of a bill aimed at relieving the country’s overcrowded prisons amid the COVID-19 outbreak and asking people to support it by signing.

“The Turkish government is working on a bill that is said to allow for the release of up to 100,000 prisoners,” the rights group said. “However, it excludes those unjustly imprisoned or held in pretrial detention for anti-terror laws simply for having exercising their rights, including journalists and human rights defenders.”

“In Turkey, the anti-terror laws are extremely vague and they are widely exploited in bogus trials against journalists, political activists, lawyers, human rights defenders and others expressing their dissenting views.”

“As concerns rise over a possible propagation of coronavirus in Turkey’s overly crowded and unhygienic prisons, the life of prisoners and prison staff are under an increasing risk.”

On Monday the London-based rights group released a joint statement that raised the same concerns along with 26 other NGOs from Turkey and around the world.

Officials from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Tuesday unveiled the bill which they announced would categorically exclude, among others, those imprisoned on charges of terrorism.

The petition also highlighted the issue of people in pretrial detention and those behind bars awaiting a ruling from an appeals court as both categories were left unaddressed by the AKP’s bill.

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