Turkey’s prominent rights watchdog, the Human Rights Association (İHD), has called for the abolition of the country’s Administrative and Observation Boards, shown to have obstructed the release of at least 313 prisoners based on subjective evaluations of ‘good conduct’.
These boards were established following an amendment to Article 89 of Turkey’s Law No. 5275 on the Execution of Penal and Security Measures, which took effect on 29 December 2020. Tasked with evaluating prisoners’ ‘good conduct’ at six months intervals, the boards have the authority to delay or deny release based on behavioural eligibility. According to the İHD, the boards’ arbitrary assessments not only violate the Turkish Constitution but also go against the European Convention on Human Rights.
The İHD reports a surge in appeals from prisoners, families, and lawyers affected by these boards. Of the 313 prisoners who have faced delayed release due to arbitrary ‘good conduct’ assessments, 48 were eventually released, 88 are ill, and 42 severely ill. One prisoner, Hayrettin Yılmaz, died in custody due to health issues.
The boards lack legal experts aside from the prison prosecutor, making subjective decisions on prisoners’ eligibility for conditional release. The İHD criticises the boards for retroactively applying disciplinary penalties and demanding statements of remorse from political prisoners, both of which violate Turkish law.
The İHD calls for the immediate abolition of these boards and the swift release of eligible prisoners, stating that such practices destroy prisoners’ right to hope and negatively affect their families.