Nilay Nayman, a lawyer and a member of Turkey’s Human Rights Association IHD spoke to Jin News regarding the increasing incidents of ‘strip searches’ in Turkey’s prisons.
Inhumane treatments and violations of rights in prisons have been steadily increasing in Turkey.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu’s recent revelation of widespread strip search practices along with sexual violence examples in Turkey’s prisons have flared up the debates regarding these inhumane practices across the country.
The most recent report of a strip search incident came from Uşak, a province in Turkey’s Aegean region, where a group of female detainees were strip searched before admission into the prison. Gergerlioğlu revealed that nearly 30 women were subjected to strip searches in Uşak.
“Naked strip search practices don’t exist in Turkey,” said Özlem Zengin, a Justice and Development Party (AKP) MP after the discussions on strip searches were brought on to the agenda of the human rights defenders. Hundreds of women shared their experiences regarding strip searches and sexual violence during police custody, including the politician Dilek Hatipoğlu also spoke out and shared with the public that she was exposed to a strip search.
Boğaziçi University students also shared their experiences of strip searches during the time they spent in custody.
The legal processes initiated by the IHD result in non-prosecution
Neyman informed that the IHD had received 36 applications regarding the ‘strip searches’ in prisons in 2019 alone whilst the Turkish authorities have been rejecting all claims regarding the accusations of the practice of strip searches. The legal processes initiated by the IHD have all resulted in non-prosecution.
“IHD defines a strip search as psychological and sexual violence. We check if one was subjected to physical violence during or after the strip search or if a report of assault was received. Then, we file a criminal complaint against this torture,” said Neyman.
“Naked strip searches are considered as torture and ill-treatment, and strictly restricted by the Constitution with an absolute prohibition, and no exceptions under no circumstances,” she said.
‘The perpetrators continue their lives without being brought to justice’
Effective investigation and prosecution is needed in the fight against strip searches, according to Neyman, but “unfortunately, even in cases of physical torture and assault reports, the lawsuits we filed are closed with no prosecution or if any prosecution is given to any perpetrator, their sentences are generally suspended or postponed.”
In other words, Neyman said, “the perpetrators of this torture continue to live their lives without being brought to justice. Therefore, the practice of naked strip searches continues.”
People who file a complaint are punished
Not only that, but the people who report a strip search and try to file a criminal complaint regarding this inhumane treatment are themselves subject to further oppression, according to Neyman’s further comments.
“The prisoners who file a complaint against naked strip searches are punished on grounds of ‘resisting against the officials and not letting them to perform their duty’. They are also imposed with disciplinary penalties such as bans on their communication tools and bans on visits by their families in prison. In other words, when a person who is exposed and opposed this practice in prison files a complaint, they are deemed as a suspect whilst the real suspects and the perpetrators walk away from the court rooms freely,” she said.