S-type prisons, which are built in a similar way to the existing F-type high security prisons in Turkey and are highly criticised for their structure and conditions for isolation, are still on the government agenda. The S-type prisons are under discussion shortly after two prisoners, Sezer Alan and Sinan Kaya, died suspicious deaths in Iğdır S-type Prison within a month, and as the imposition of isolation on prisoners is being increased. The first S-type prisons were opened in 2021, and as of 2022 there are five in use. There are single and triple cells in the S-type prisons built in Antalya, Manavgat, Bodrum, Iğdır and Samsun, and the capacity of each is 552 prisoners.
Berivan Korkut, Advocacy Coordinator of the Civilian Community Association in the Penal Execution System (CİSST), gave her assessments to MA in relation the S-type prisons and what happens in them.
Similarities to F-type high security prisons
Korkut stressed the high security nature of the S-type prisons, stating that the population of these prisons primarily consists of political prisoners. She pointed out similarities between the S-type and existing F-type prisons, saying, “Single and three-person cells are the common features of the two prisons. But there are differences in the capacities of the two types of prison. The capacity of F-type prisons is 368 prisoners, S-type prisons on the other hand have a capacity of 552. In this regard, we can say that of the S-type prisons that they are basically renovated F-type prisons with an increased capacity.”
Ministry refusing to release information
Korkut stated that in response to enquiries made to the Ministry of Justice by the CİSST regarding the differences between F-type and S-type prisons, the ministry had said, “This information relates to the confidentiality of the institutions, we cannot give it out.” Korkut noted that there is not enough information about these prisons, and emphasised that their main function is as new isolation prisons for political prisoners.
Recalling that F-type prisons are currently high on the political agenda, Korkut said, “They have caused adverse reactions and much has been written about them. If the public had been told, “Five more F-type prisons have been opened”, these adverse reactions would have been repeated. This is one reason for the opening of the S-type prisons. So far, five S-type prisons have been opened and two more are under preparation, but there has not been such a big reaction from the public. We see attempts to hinder the awareness of the public on this issue,” she said.
Transfers have started
Korkut divulged the information that prisoners are just beginning to be transferred to these prisons, and said that the CİSST is considering preparing a report on this issue in the coming days. She said that they have not received any detailed information from prisoners, but emphasised that applications they have received come under the headings of rights violations such as strip-searches.
Independence of the Forensic Medicine Institute
Touching on the situation of sick prisoners, Korkut explained that there are structural problems in the official Forensic Medicine Institute (ATK). She said, “Many non-governmental organisations have been saying for years that structurally, the ATK is not an independent institution. Many comments have been made by health organisations that the ATK makes politically motivated decisions. In addition, prisoners who have been to the ATK are left with overwhelmingly negative impressions from the attitudes they encounter. ”
The solution: Neutral mechanisms
Korkut stated that independent university hospitals and decision mechanisms involving large impartial committees should be established to replace the ATK, and pointed out that unless the structural problem in question is resolved, the problems of sick prisoners will continue to increase. She said, “Even if the administration has good intentions towards sick prisoners, we know that there are many sick prisoners who have lost their lives during the bureaucratic process before being transferred to hospital. We think that it is a basic necessity to establish mechanisms that will prioritise patient health as soon as possible.”
Stressing that the CİSST are trying to learn the figures relating to sick prisoners who have lost their lives, Korkut said, “There is also a very large number of sick prisoners who do not get reported in the press. It is very difficult for them to reach community organisations and for their families to publicise their cases. The figures we have are very limited,” she said. She noted that they have repeatedly applied to the online State Communications Centre (CİMER) and the Ministry of Justice for information in the matter, but that these figures have not been given to them.