Turkey is first among the 47 members of the Council of Europe countries in terms of its number of detainees and convicts, and the country still continues its construction of prisons in 2021. In March, the government’s Human Rights Action Plan was declared to improve the human rights situation, but the same government continues to build new prisons. In the first three months of the year, six of the eight prison tenders were announced.
The total cost of the six prisons is 556 million Turkish liras (TL). Four of the six finalised tenders were held on 9 November 2020 and the two companies that are close to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) won three of these four tenders.
Nurpa Energy and Rast Mining Company are the companies that won the tenders of Siirt (Sert), Tunceli (Dersim) and Giresun prisons. Nurpa Energy, which is based in Mardin (Mêrdin), had previously been a matter of debate due to the negotiated tenders received from the trustee administration in Mardin. After the complaint regarding the closed-procedure tender, it was announced that the contract was not signed with the company. The total price of the three prison tenders the company won with Nurpa Energy in 2021 reached 257.2 million TL.
The rights defenders criticised the government for trying to solve the problem of overcrowding by building new prisons. Berivan Korkut from the Civil Society in the Penal System Association (CISST) stated that there were already 374 prisons in Turkey and their capacity is 250,756 people. She added that 276,438 prisoners were kept in these prisons. Korkut stated that public resources were transferred to pay for the construction of prisons.
“Another problem is when we look at the local authorities where these prisons will be built, they are announcing it as if a factory will be opened. There are discussions about how good it will be for the economy and what kind of benefits it will have.”
According to the Turkish Ministry of Justice 2021 Performance Programme, 39 new prisons will be built in Turkey this year.