Human Rights Association (İHD), a prominent rights watchdog in Turkey, has unveiled a comprehensive report detailing a disturbing pattern of human rights violations in Turkish prisons throughout 2022. The report, compiled from applications made to the İHD, regular prison reports, and data gathered during prison visits, reveals a staggering 10,789 violations across a broad spectrum of rights.
The violations, according to the report, are primarily concentrated on the right to health, prevention of release, social rights, torture and ill-treatment, discrimination, right to a fair trial, economic and social rights, and communication and information rights. The report also highlights numerous applications from prisoners requesting transfers to prisons closer to their families, requests that are often ignored by prison administrations.
The report paints a grim picture of the state of Turkish prisons, with at least 81 prisoners losing their lives in 2022. Of these, 36 died due to illnesses, with six passing away shortly after their release. The report also notes 25 deaths under suspicious circumstances, 19 alleged suicides, and 10 cases of attempted suicide or declared intent to commit suicide.
The İHD report emphasises that all deaths in prisons are preventable, calling for adequate measures to ensure access to health rights and respect for human dignity to protect prisoners’ physical and psychological integrity. It also provides a detailed list of prisoners who lost their lives in 2022, including their names, the prisons they were held in, and the reported causes of their deaths.
Overcrowding is a significant issue in Turkish prisons, with the number of inmates surpassing the capacity of the prisons, leading to inhumane living conditions. As of 3 July 2023, there were 360,722 prisoners in total, significantly higher than the total capacity of the prisons, which is 296,202.
The report also raises serious concerns about the lack of adequate healthcare services for inmates, with many prisoners with chronic illnesses not receiving the necessary medical attention. It mentions that there are 1,517 sick prisoners, including 651 severely ill prisoners, in Turkish prisons as of April 2022.
Instances of violence and torture in prisons are documented in the report, with a call for an end to the prolonged isolation of prisoners, which can lead to severe psychological damage. The report also emphasises the need for special attention to the rights of female and juvenile prisoners, who face unique challenges in the prison system.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on prison conditions is also discussed, with the pandemic exacerbating existing problems such as overcrowding and lack of healthcare.
The report concludes with a series of recommendations to improve prison conditions and protect the human rights of inmates, including reducing overcrowding, improving healthcare services, investigating instances of violence and torture, ending prolonged isolation, and paying special attention to the rights of female and juvenile prisoners.
The report also criticises the lack of transparency in data related to prisons, noting that while the General Directorate of Prisons and Detention Houses shares certain statistical data, it does not share data on LGBT+ prisoners, political prisoners, foreign prisoners, sick prisoners, prisoners who have died, disabled prisoners, and women prisoners with babies.