Turkish parliament approves first 17 clauses of prison reform bill

(Releads with no number of clauses)

Turkey's parliament on Saturday approved 7 clauses of a prison reform bill that aims to relax sentencing and see nearly one third of prisoners released on parole or to house arrest, bringing the total number of approved clauses of the proposed law to 17, Gerçek Gündem news site reported.

The clauses approved include expanded authority of enforcement judges

 on releases on parole, prison transfers and approval or appeal periods, as well as a clause, which regulates the authority and responsibility of enforcement judges among others, it said.

All proposals by opposition parties to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) introduced bill were downvoted during Friday’s session, Evrensel said. 

The bill calls for the transfer of prisoners aged over 65, women with young children and others to house arrest, and will reduce jail time for other prisoners, who will be allowed to serve a longer part of their sentences on parole. 

As many as 90,000 Turkish prisoners, roughly one third of the country's prison population, are set to benefit from the bill,  but thousands of people in jail on terror charges are excluded from the proposed law. 

Activists and human rights watchdogs have raised alarm over those who will fail to benefit from the new law, saying that many of those the government calls terrorists are in jail for their political activities or dissident views.

Parliament is set to reconvene to discuss the bill on Sunday.