The second day of a two-day international conference hosted by Istanbul over the weekend addressed challenges faced by juvenile detainees and issues with accessing health care during the covid-19 pandemic in Turkey’s prisons.
“The Pandemic and Prisons” conference was organised by the Civil Society in the Penal Execution System Association (CISST), with delegates including human rights defenders, lawyers, researchers and prison experts.
Dr Ayşe Uğurlu from the executive board of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) noted during one session that the intentional restriction of health care by prison authorities can be used as a means to coerce or pressurise prisoners. Uğurlu highlighted the need for sick prisoners to have the same rights as any other patients and criticised the presence of law enforcement officers at medical examinations and gynaecological procedures as a violation of prisoners’ rights.
Naji Abbas from Physicians for Human Rights in the USA compared the situation in Israel’s prisons during the pandemic, emphasising the lack of specialised doctors, contrasting healthcare standards inside and outside prison walls.
UNICEF’s Gökhan Yıldırım addressed the challenges that juveniles face when incarcerated in adult prisons. Rezan Gedik, a psychologist with the Turkish Ministry of Justice, talked of the difficulties faced by children in overcrowded wards and the suspension of visits during the pandemic.
The CISST plans to publish the conference’s final declaration in the coming months.