Şebnem Korur Fincancı, the deposed chair of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), has spoken out against the dire healthcare conditions in Turkey’s prisons, and criticised the compromised autonomy of the Institute of Forensic Medicine (ATK). Speaking to Mezopotamya Agency on Monday, she said, “Prisoners even have to wait in line to go to the sickroom. There are serious problems with transfer to [outside] health facilities in emergency situations,” highlighting the struggle for medical attention in prisons and systemic issues in accessing care.
Fincancı also shed light on the substandard conditions of prisoner transfer. “The transport vehicles are inappropriate, lacking heating or cooling systems, and the entry and exit procedures at prisons involve degrading treatment,” she said, emphasising the lack of human dignity in the process. “Prisoners are subjected to searches as intrusive as strip searches, we’re talking here about individuals who may struggle with basic tasks like putting on a shoe unaided,” Fincancı added.
She pointed to further rights violations: “They are brought in handcuffs to the hospital … examined in the presence of law enforcement officers. This is in violation of the principle of privacy.” She argued for the necessity of dignified medical examination for prisoners, akin to the standard expected for free individuals.
Reflecting on her personal experiences, she said, “I have chronic sinusitis and need a pressurised pump for clearing the sinuses. I couldn’t access this in prison, and I have no financial problems,” illustrating broader challenges in prisoner healthcare access.
Questioning the independence of the ATK, Fincancı highlighted its affiliation with the Ministry of Justice. “The fact that the ATK answers to the Ministry of Justice raises doubts about its impartiality. And although it is not legally the final authority, the courts often treat it as such,” she said.