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‘Urgent intervention in life’ demands rising from prisons

Population of prisons have exceeded populations of many cities and are overcrowded, especially sick prisoners are waiting for urgent solution. Both number and population of prisons are increasing and there are hundreds of cancer patients and students in prisons.

Although Minister of Justice claims that “they are very sensitive to torture and poor living conditions”, reports of  prisoner families and watching committees witness to rising cries of “urgent intervention in life.”

Cengiz Aldemir

“Population” of prisons have exceeded population of many cities in Turkey. Abdülhamit Gül, Ministry of Justice, declared that there are 260 thousand and 144 persons in prisons and 202 thousand of these prisoners are convicts, 57 thousand and 710 are detainees as of 16th November, 2018. Gül defends that “they are very sensitive about transparency of prisons” and states that prisons could be inspected by Human Rights Investigation Commission of GNAT, Human Rights and Equality Association of Turkey, watching committees, the Ombudsman Institution, prison prosecutors, execution judges and inspectors of Ministry of Justice at any time and without notice. However contrary to the Minister’s comments, Turkish Medical Association (TMA), Human Rights Association (HRA), associations of prisoner families, investigation reports of politicians and reports of prisons investigation committees both agree that imprisonment is almost a punishment method.


According to the data of Turkish Statistical Institute (TUİK) and statistics released by World Prison Brief (WDP), Turkey ranks 7th with respect to prison population. There are 291 closed penitentiary institutions, 70  independent open penitentiary institutions, 3 education houses for children, 8 closed, 5 open penitentiary institutions for women, 7 closed prisons for children and 384 prisons in Turkey in total. The number rose to 386 prisons in Turkey between 2014 and 2017. The Ministry of Justice, prepared to put 45 new prisons into service, signaling that this number will increase further.


According to the World Prison Brief (WPB) data US comes first with its most crowded population of 2,1 millions of prisoner and convicts. Chinaranks the second with approximately 1 million and 650 thousand prisoners and Brazil is the third with about 700 thousand prisoners.

As of November 2018, the prison population in Turkey (including prisoners) was defined as 260 thousand people in WPB’s statistics. Turkey was 9th in rank in 2009 and climbed to 7th in 2017 with this population.


While the construction and population of prisons continues to increase, the living conditions in prisons are deteriorating day by day. Turkish Medical Association (TMA) draws attention to the human rights violations. Many documents of both TMA and various international institutions point out that “F-Type Prisons” are unacceptable. On the basis of its investigations in the F Type Prison in Sincan, TMA highlights that F Type prisons in their all details were organized to isolate and lockdown persons physically and spatially. Demands of TMA for prisons are specified as follows: “F-type prisons under construction should be stopped; prisons should be tackled in integrity with penal and judicial system; solutions should be accordant with human rights and universal principles of law; a working group should be organized at a national level to that end with participation of related Ministries and non-profit organizations, notably the Turkish Medical Association, Bar Association of Turkey, the Turkish Union of Chambers of Architects and Engineers and Human Rights Associations.”


Association of Prisoners’ Families (TYAD) shares the idea that F type prisons totally serve lockdown and isolation. TYAD states that cell houses increases the suicide risk of prisoners and draws attention to the fact that isolation leads to gastro-intestinal, musculoskeletal disorders and weakening of immune system and serious increases in tumor growth rate. TYAD reminds that this type of prisons are abandoned in countries like USA, United Kingdom and Germany, those have similar practices, because it creates individuals non-adaptive and alienated to society and wants this system, which has serious drawbacks to be left also in Turkey.


Another ongoing problem in prisons is the sick prisoners. It is stated that  there are 1154 sick prisoners and more than 400 are seriously ill in the “Violation of Right to Health in Prisons” Report of Ankara Medical Chamber (AMC) and Ankara division of Human Rights Association (HRA). The report calls Ministry of Health and Human Rights Investigation Commission of GNAT  “immediately to take initiative, search situations of sick prisoners, offer solutions and make improvements.”

Politicians making statement to halagazeteciyiz.net, bring the situations of sick prisoners and imprisoned students up and demand for urgent solution.


Gamze Akkuş İlgezdi

Gamze Akkuş İlgezdi, Vice President of RPP (Republican People’s Party –CHP in Turkish) declares that in last 16 years, number of convicts increased 335 percent and current capacity of prisons is insufficient. İlgezdi states that the solution lies in the improvement of justice system, not in constructing new prisons. She draws attention to choking of the cries of lockdown prisoners and says “Rise in number of prisoners especially stems from judicial cases, in other words robbery, drugs and murders. According to 2017 data, the number of people who have been suspected has reached approximately 12 millions. This was 3 millions in 2006. In other words, under JDP rule, number of ‘suspects’ increases day by day. That is to say, people are being systematically criminalized.”

She expresses that there are only 441 doctors in prisons and prisons does not have access to medical services and says “prisoners can not reflect their problems. There are 270 quotas for doctors and only 8 doctors are working and other doctors come from other hospitals. 463 doctors are working by ‘commissioning.’ For this reason, there are major grievances, especially those with severe illness.”


Semra Güzel

Ibrahim Akbaba, a 70-year-old man who was staying in Edirne F-Type Closed Prison, died, after his release was approved, before he could leave the prison. PDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party, Turkish HDP  – Halkların Demokratik Partisi) deputy of Diyarbakır Semra Güzel reminds this death, and says, “This situation reveals who is responsible for hundreds of prisoners who lost their lives while waiting for their release.” She states that they have appealed to the Human Rights Investigation Commission of GNAT many times and could never get a valid response or only get unserious responses, and asked Abdülhamit Gül, Ministry of Justice that how many sick prisoners lost their lives while waiting for a report and what they did as Ministry in order to prevent deaths since 2013.


In addition to sick detainees, thousands of students are in prisons. Although the Ministry of Justice officials say that as of  31 December 2017, there were 37 thousands and 266 convicts and detainees, PDP deputy of Diyarbakır Dersim Dağ, claimed that 70 thousand students are in prisons. Dağ said, “A large number of these students in prison stay in state dormitories and receive scholarships. Assuming that only one thousand students stayed in state dormitories and received a scholarship, we can see that the answers given by the ministry are not satisfactory.”

Translation: Ekin Değirmenci

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