A Kurdish remand prisoner has lost his life in the hospital where he was receiving treatment following what officials said was a suicide attempt in prison in Batman (Êlih) province, in southeast Turkey, Mezopotamya Agency reported on Tuesday.
Taner Atmaca (25) was arrested on 27 July, and allegedly attempted suicide in prison two days later. His family has lodged a formal complaint against the Batman M-Type Prison administration, saying that according to rumours they had heard he had in fact been injured in an altercation with another inmate. They have also submitted a petition for access to the prison’s security footage, but this has been denied.
The family was only informed of Atmaca’s injury two days after the event, on 31 July, when his heart stopped at the hospital, the father told Mezopotamya. The family had to wait for a court order to visit the dying man.
When the family was finally able to visit, Atmaca was handcuffed to his bed.
“My son had a only 10 percent chance of survival. There was a soldier by his side, and he was cuffed to the bed,” the father, Bedrettin Atmaca, said. “We objected. The doctors and the prosecutor said it was the law.”
However, the handcuffs were removed two days later in response to the family’s appeals.
Domestic and international laws allow for handcuffing of inmates during medical procedures, however, each individual case needs to be assessed to ensure no violations of the ban on degrading treatment and torture as specified in the European Convention on Human Rights.
Case law suggests that in order to ensure privacy, escorting security personnel should not be within earshot during treatment, and also that handcuffing should not be the presumed course of action in a hospital setting.
The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) said in a report in July that Turkey’s substandard conditions of detention were reaching “crisis levels”. According to the watchdog, Turkey is among the top five Council of Europe member states for rates of suicide behind bars. At least 57 deaths in Turkey’s prisons were ruled suicides in 2020.