Increased incarceration rates in recent years have exacerbated already substandard conditions of detention in Turkey, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) said on Friday in a briefing note on the situation of prisons and prisoners.
Vulnerable sections of society, including ethnic minorities, women, LGBTI+ persons, minors and persons with disabilities, live under especially challenging conditions, the global watchdog said.
According to OMCT’s findings, at least 57 Turkish prison deaths were ruled as suicide in 2020.
Physical assault, beatings, strip searches, denial of medical attention and other arbitrary restrictions have also been on the rise, the group found. Another major issue was found to be the conditions of chronically ill prisoners, where inmates are denied appropriate diets and regular doctor’s visits.
OMCT cited the situation of Kurdish politician Aysel Tuğluk, who was issued back to back reports by authorities stating that she could remain in prison despite a diagnosis of advancing dementia and reports from university hospitals making it clear that lack of stimulation under prison conditions is leading to accelerated degeneration of her memory functions.
The Forensic Medicine Institute (ATK) appears to issue medical reports under government pressure, especially for political prisoners, the group found.
LGBTI+ prisoners constantly face the risk of physical and sexual assault, and have particular difficulties accessing healthcare, they said. Prisoners have also been transferred between prisons frequently and against their will. Several transgender prisoners have gone on hunger strikes in recent years in protest of their mistreatment by authorities.
Turkey is among the top three countries with a prison population over 300,000 according to the Council of Europe’s Annual Penal Statistics (SPACE) report for 2021. Between 2011 and 2021, the incarceration rate in the country grew by 89 percent.
On top of Turkey’s 314,502 inmates, there are another 426,647 people on probation, pushing the total number of citizens deprived of their liberty to 741,149 in the country of 84 million people.