Conditions are worsening in Turkey’s prisons during COVID-19 pandemic

According to reports by human rights and prison monitoring organisations, the conditions of prisons in Turkey have worsened during the pandemic. Since early March, the government of Turkey has been implementing various measures to fight COVID-19 within prisons across the country. This includes a highly contested amnesty law that was utterly unfair and discriminatory at least on two grounds. First, it categorically excluded from its scope all political prisoners facing “terrorism-related charges.” Second, it applies only to convicts, excluding those jailed pending trial.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the government has not been transparent about the number of COVID-19 cases in and outside the prisons. Based on reports from families and prisoners’ lawyers, the number of cases in prisons is much higher than the official figures reported.

Turkish authorities did not make any statement about the spread of pandemic in prisons until 14 April, the day when the amnesty law was passed. According to several legal authorities, this rule violates the Turkish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights and the main party in the opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), has declared that they will appeal this law.

EFA supports the HDP party and joins its call on the international community to closely monitor prisons in Turkey, follow the debates on the appeal process regarding the amnesty law, be the voice of vulnerable prisoners and their families, and mobilise the mechanisms and resources to protect their rights.

Read full statement from HDP Foreign Affairs Commission