Inmate torture a practice in all Turkish prisons, says opposition MP

All prisons in Turkey have implemented the practice of torturing inmates, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker and deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission Sezgin Tanrıkulu said.

 “During the military coup of Sept. 12, 1980, the centre for torture and mistreatment were the Metris (in Istanbul), Mamak (in Ankara) and Diyarbakır prisons, now all 355 prisons implement this practice,” the lawmaker told news site Duvar on Saturday.

Human rights violations are more widespread and systematic than the coup period of the 1980s, when they occurred mainly in the Kurdish-majority region within Turkey, Tanrıkulu said.

“That region was governed under martial law and state of emergencies from the Sept. 12 coup until 2002,” he added, adding that in the rest of the country the effects of the coup were mostly felt in prisons.

Tanrıkulu pointed to the wave of arrests targeting women in particular and said the number of pregnant women and mothers with infants in prisons has also reached record levels.

There were 669 children in Turkish jails, 64 percent of them under tue age of three, according to the Justice Ministry’s data for 2018. 

Turkey’s prisons operate at overcapacity by some 60,000 inmates, the lawmaker said, with some prisons housing double their capacity, contributing to an environment of constant torture.

Comparing current practices to those of the 1990s, the height of the conflict between Turkey and the outlawed PKK, Tanrıkulu said judges today refuse to include in the record any account of torture in custody and prisons by lawyers or defendants.

“I am not making this comparison on which period was better or worse,” he stressed.
Judges tell defendants to file their complaints about torture with a prosecutor, Tanrıkulu said. “I have witnessed countless times that lawyers cannot find a prosecutor to take the petition about torture.”

Ankara maintains a policy of zero tolerance to torture, but reports of torture and mistreatment have increased substantially since 2015, when a peace process with the PKK broke down, and particularly after the failed coup attempt of 2016.

Lawmaker from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and member of the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu on Thursday highlighted the recent case of torture for at least 46 people.