Speaking on an NTV broadcast, Turkey’s Minister of Justice, Bekir Bozdağ announced that the ministry is preparing a new regulation for sick prisoners. Bozdağ also said that arrested human rights lawyer and former MP Aysel Tuğluk’s state of health would be re-evaluated on 16 September.
Fifty-seven-year-old Tuğluk was diagnosed with dementia in February 2021 while behind bars. Her condition has since advanced, and she is less unable to take care of all her daily self-care needs.
The Constitutional Court rejected the release application for Tuğluk in August, despite the Forensic Medicine Institute (ATK) reporting that her condition was likely to decline and that her dementia would advance under prison conditions.
ATK, whose staff are directly assigned by the Ministry of Justice, is at the centre of legal mechanisms that decide upon the release or non-release of sick prisoners in Turkey. The institute reportedly presents reports on political prisoners that are very different from the reports that have been provided by public hospitals, according to the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) Chair Professor Şebnem Korur Fincancı.
Bozdağ stated that the Ministry of Justice is preparing a new judicial package as regards sick detainees, saying, “We recognise that there is a need for a new regulation.”
The families of ill prisoners who came together to draw attention to the violations of rights in prisons and to announce their demands hold The Justice Vigil from November 2021 to date.
According to April 2022 data from the Human Rights Association (İHD), there are over 1,500 sick prisoners, 651 of whom are seriously ill, in Turkish prisons. In addition, 22 of 45 detainees whose release requests were rejected despite their serious illnesses died in jail due to their conditions in the last year.
Regarding the debates on the qualification of the judges and prosecutors, which have come to the fore with the arrest of singer Gülşen, Bozdağ said, “the Council of Judges and Prosecutors makes appointments within the framework of certain principles. Our first-class judges and prosecutors are working in Istanbul.”