After Abdullah Öcalan’s legal representatives at the Asrın Law Office recently appealed to the Council of Europe’s anti-torture body for an immediate visit to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader inside İmralı Island Prison where he has been serving a life sentence since 1999, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has announced today that it has carried out an ad hoc visit to Turkey including visiting the prison island of Imrali between 20 and 29 September 2022.
The statement read: ‘The main objective of the visit was to examine the treatment and conditions of detention of foreign nationals detained under aliens legislation as well as the procedures applied to them in the context of their removal. On the occasion of the visit, the delegation also went to Imralı F-type High-Security Prison, in order to examine the treatment and conditions of detention of all (four) prisoners currently held in the establishment. In this connection, particular attention was paid to the communal activities offered to the prisoners and their contacts with the outside world.’
The statement went on to say that during the course of the visit, the delegation met with Süleyman Soylu, Minister of the Interior, Savaş Ünlü, Head of the Presidency of Migration Management, and senior officials from the Ministry of the Interior (including the Gendarmerie General Command and the Coast Guard Command). The delegation also held consultations with Akın Gürlek, Deputy Minister of Justice, and Enis Yavuz Yıldırım, Director General of Prisons and Detention Centres, as well as with other senior officials of the Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs, on the implementation of long-standing recommendations made by the CPT concerning Imralı Prison.
At the end of the visit the CPT reported that the delegation presented its preliminary observations to the Turkish authorities.
Ibrahim Bilmez, lawyer of Abdullah Öcalan told Medya News, in an initial response to the statement: “It’s very important that the CPT visited Imrali Island Prison. It was one of our central demands that CPT must, as quickly as possible visit Imrali. It is not the first time they have visited Imrali, CPT has visited Imrali 8 times and based on these visits they shared many recommendations in regards to treatment of prisoners and communication with the outside world, so the important aspect is not only the actual visit of Imrali but whether the previous recommendations have been implemented by the Turkish government.”
The PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and 3 fellow prisoners held on the island as sole prisoners, have been under strict isolation for years, rarely if ever allowed to communicate with the outside world.
The last time either one of the four men spoke with their lawyers was on 7 August 2019 and have been held incommunicado for the last 19 months.