Country of Origin Information Report


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Mistreatment in Detention
11.20 The European Commission 2007 published 6 November 2007 notes added that “Overall, the Turkish legal framework includes a comprehensive set of safeguards against torture and ill-treatment. However, cases still occur, especially before detention starts. The fight against impunity remains an area of concern. Turkey needs to investigate more thoroughly allegations that there have been human rights violations by members of the security forces.” [71c] (p14)
11.21 The EC 2007 report also noted that “As regards the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, legislative safeguards continue to have positive effects. The downward trend in the number of cases of torture and ill-treatment is confirmed. However, there continued to be reports of torture and ill-treatment, especially before detention starts. Impunity remains an area of concern. There is a lack of prompt, impartial and independent investigations into allegations of human rights violations by members of security forces. There is no independent monitoring of places of detention by national bodies, as provided for under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.” [71c] (p60)

11.22 The Report of the UK Border Agency Fact Finding Mission (UKBA FFM) 11 – 20 February 2007 includes general information on Arrest, Detention and Mistreatment obtained from interviews with a number of sources. According to a judge from the International affairs department of Prisons and Detention Facilities, there was no tolerance for ill treatment in prisons either in law or in practice. He said that the numbers of allegations of mistreatment had declined and are very rare compared to before 1998. This had been confirmed by European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) reports. The judge was not aware of any trends regarding the police detention centres as these were outside of his area of responsibility. [59] (S9.3)

11.23 Mr Firat the Director of EU Affairs at the Justice Ministry told the UKBA FFM that there might be incidents of alleged mistreatment of detainees but certainly no systematic abuse. According to the Istanbul protocol, police officers were required to obtain medical reports as soon as a person was admitted to detention and immediately after a person’s release from detention. In this way, the detention system was transparent and any mistreatment would not go undetected. In Turkey there was a zero tolerance policy towards mistreatment/torture. [59] (S10.4)
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11.24 When asked about the nature of ill-treatment taking place, Mr Firat said again that he was not aware of any ill treatment of prisoners in Turkey. Mr Firat advised that that there might be some allegations of assault in detention centres, but such cases would be immediately investigated and punished. [59] (S10.7)
11.025 Mr Husnu Ondul - Chairman of the Human Rights Association (İnsan Hakları Derneği ‘İHD’) told the UKBA FFM that in the past detainees had been subject to severe levels of mistreatment, including Palestinian hangings (where individuals were hung upside down), electric shocks and beatings on the feet but these severe forms of mistreatment had now been virtually stopped. Out of 500 to 800 reports of mistreatment put forward during a year, Mr Ondul estimated that about 3-4 cases might have been the subject of these forms of mistreatment. [59] (S4.3)

11.26 When asked about the nature of the mistreatment individuals experienced in detention or in prison at the hands of police officials, Mr Ondul said that the police implemented 32 different methods of mistreatment including: sleep deprivation, regular beatings, fist fighting, making individuals stand on one foot, making individuals strip naked and making threats to kill, rape or generally humiliate. Mr Ondul also said that police officials carried out various methods of mistreatment towards individuals of different sexual persuasions, such as transsexuals. [59] (S4.4)

11.27 In terms of trends in the incidents of mistreatment and locations where it took place, Mr Ondul said that there were incidents reported across the country from Istanbul to Diyarbakir, in police national offices from the West to the North and from the East to the South. He added that normally, the police would not take an individual directly to a detention centre but to another place where the mistreatment would happen, such as a car park and only then would the individual concerned be taken to a police station. He also said however, that some incidents of mistreatment took place in parts of detention centres where there was no CCTV. [59] [S4.5]
11.28 Mr Ondal said that in 2005, the Human Rights Association received 825 complaints of incidents of torture and mistreatment at the hands of police officials. In 2006, the figure was 708 and in 2007, again 678. The numbers of cases of mistreatment reported fluctuated depending on circumstances, both increasing and decreasing at particular points of time. [59] (S4.7)
11.29 In Mr Ondul’s opinion, police official’s also mistreated detainees as a means of punishment for alleged crimes, for example, if a person committed a petty crime or theft. He gave the example of a shopkeeper who alleged that a boy had stolen some goods from his shop. When the police officers arrived they beat the boy, who they said already had a criminal record and deserved the beating. The beating was recorded by a camera in the workplace and was shown on television. [59] (S4.10)

11.30 Mr Beyter, Chairman of Mazlum Der told the UKBA FFM that the mistreatment reported was mostly in the form of violent behaviour and beatings. In his opinion, there were no recent reports on levels of violence reaching the level of torture. About 70% of cases reporting mistreatment by the police authorities would cite having been beaten. Mr Beyter was not aware of reports citing any other methods of mistreatment. [59] (S5.6)

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11.31 UN Report ‘Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, 2008’ published 18 February 2008 stated that:
“According to non-governmental sources, the use of audio- and video-taping equipment (and CCTV) in all areas of detention centres would be an important safeguard. However, in several cases reported to NGOs, the police have maintained that video or CCTV records were unavailable in the room where the alleged torture or ill-treatment occurred. In the case of the fatal shooting in police custody of Nigerian asylum seeker Festus Okey in Istanbul on 7 September 2007, the police insist that there were no cameras in the room where the incident occurred. The Government informed that the trial of the police officer, who has been accused of murdering Festus Okey, is ongoing at the 7th Criminal Court of First Instance of Beyoğlu (Registry No. 2007/308).” [20c] (p137)
11.32 The Amnesty International 2007 report noted that “There were continued reports of torture and illtreatment by law enforcement officials, although fewer than in previous years. Detainees alleged that they had been beaten, threatened with death, deprived of food, water and sleep during detention. Some of the torture and ill-treatment took place in unofficial places of detention.” [12c]
legislation (framework and implementation) to prevent mistreatment in prisons and detention

11.33 The Report of the UK Border Agency Fact Finding Mission (UKBA FFM) to Turkey 11 – 20 February 2008, notes that several of the sources interviewed referred to the government’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy on torture, which was announced by the new AKP government in 2002. [59] (1)

11.34 A government circular issued to Provincial governors regarding the application of the ‘zero tolerance’ policy stated:
"No concession in any form will be made from the careful and decisive implementation of legal and administrative procedures which have been made, in line with our government's understanding of ‘zero tolerance towards torture’. The necessary investigations into allegations of torture and ill-treatment will be started without delay and completed within the shortest period of time possible. In line with legal and administrative procedures to counter torture and ill-treatment, alongside the routine inspections of managers at all levels in public sector organisations and other responsible officials, carried out with and without prior notice, Human Rights Boards and related organisations and units located in the provinces and sub-provinces will carry out visits with and without prior notice. In order to address the problems identified in these visits and inspections, the required precautions will be taken quickly and it will be ensured that the necessary procedures relating to those who identified the fault will be carried out." [59] (21) (Translation)

11.35 The Report of the UKBA FFM includes information regarding the legislative position obtained from interviews with a number of sources. According to the judge from the International Affairs Department of Prisons and Detention Facilities, Turkey had the most modern Penal Code, Penal Procedure and Penal Enforcement Laws in Europe, as these laws had been promulgated in 2005, in co-operation with the Council of Europe and other international groups. Within the framework of “Turkish Prison Reform”, in addition to the physical modernization of prisons, nineteen different pieces of legislation relating to prisons, including mistreatment by law enforcement officials had been put in to practice. [59] (S9.5)

11.36 Mr Ondul, the Chairman of the Human Rights Association advised that since Turkey was listed for EU accession in December 1999, it had continued to make improvements to the existing legislative framework in relation to mistreatment in prisons and detention. On 30 November 2002, the government had removed emergency regulations, thus allowing detainees to consult legal advisors and had increased the severity of sentences for cases of torture and mistreatment. [59] (S4.2)
11.37 Mr Beyter, Chairman of Mazlum Der said that there had been some improvements in the legal framework in relation to the mistreatment of individuals in detention or in prison as the government looked to reform its legislation in line with EU standards. Only recently (a few days ago), the government had amended the legislative framework to reduce police power in terms of being able act arbitrarily in how they treated citizens. [59] (S5.2)
11.38 Mr Beyter told the UKBA FFM that the government had been sincere in its statement on a zero tolerance on torture. For example, despite some changes to the composition of monitoring boards carrying out periodic visits to prisons to include doctors and lawyers, there were no representatives invited to join the boards from Human Rights organizations. [59] (S5.7)

11.39 The EU Commission Delegation informed the UKBA FFM that the prison monitoring boards did not include independent members, such as representatives of NGOs; instead they tended to appoint retired judges, and prosecutors who were often not very open minded. The monitoring boards also failed to produce regular reports of inspections so were not transparent. Turkey had yet to ratify the Optional Protocol on Torture (OPCAT), but there was hope this would happen soon as the EU delegation was lobbying for this. [59] (S.19.12)

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Government and other initiatives to prevent mistreatment in prisons and detention
11.40 The Report of the UK Border Agency Fact Finding Mission (UKBA FFM) to Turkey 11 – 20 February 2008, notes that Mr Ondul, Chairman of the Human Rights Association, said there was no independent Ombudsman in Turkey to investigate complaints of mistreatment. Turkey was yet to ratify the Optional Protocol on Torture (OPCAT). Therefore prisons and detention centres were not currently monitored by independent bodies. The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey was campaigning for Turkey to sign OPCAT and get it approved by the Turkish parliament. The Human Rights Association supports this campaign. [59] (S4.15)
11.41 Mr Beyter Chairman of Mazlum Der also advised that there was no statutory body in place to follow up complaints of mistreatment. A Human Rights body affiliated to the Prime Minister’s office is in place with district and provincial branches across the country where individuals can report cases of human rights violations to. However, Mr Beyter said that individuals tended not to report incidences of mistreatment to these boards therefore the boards were unaware of any trends relating to the issue of mistreatment. Mr Beyter reported that the Chair of the Human Rights Association of the Prime Minister’s Department based in Ankara had said that the chairs of the district and provincial branches affiliated to the Prime Ministerial Human Rights body have little human rights awareness and have carried out few activities in the preservation of human rights in their areas of responsibilities. [59] (S5.10)

11.42 The official from the Foreign Relations and European Union Department, Ministry of Interior told the UKBA FFM that the government was trying to set up an Ombudsman to investigate complaints of mistreatment, but the project had not yet been implemented. He said that the project was being taken forward in conjunction with UK authorities as part of the UK-Turkey twinning project. However, the same official did explain that there were Inspectorate Boards affiliated to the Ministry of the Interior which inspected police detention centres and prisons and which also investigated claims of mistreatment by police officials. The inspectorate board HQ was based in Ankara but had regional offices in Izmir and Istanbul. Their staff included well qualified people such as prison governors, all of whom had 6 months training on handling mistreatment/ human rights violation type claims, are also given specific training on how to investigate claims of human rights violation in the law enforcement practices. [59] (S12.8)

11.43 The same official also said that the measures taken by the Ministry within the framework of the zero tolerance to torture and mistreatment policy and the work carried out to ensure human rights sensitive policing services and to improve detention centre facilities could be addressed under three sections:
a) Legal reforms beginning in 1995 and continuing to 2005 saw amendments to the criminal procedure laws which included: increased punishments for police officials committing human rights violations towards detainees, permission to put forward mistreatment cases to the administration court, and a one month deadline for prosecutors to finalise investigations into allegations of mistreatment and medical reporting in police detention.
b) Activities to improve the infrastructure of police detention centres, including the 24 hour monitoring, the provision of CCTV recording equipment in all detention centres and general improvements to accommodation. According to the same official, 78% of detention centres now had improved infrastructure and facilities which complied with CPT standards.
c) The creation of a human rights based culture in police institutions which included improvements to police training on human rights issues and general awareness of daily procedures. The same official advised that at the end of 2006, 300 000 police officers had undertaken human rights awareness training. [59] (S12.9)

11.44 Mr Sedat Ozcan, of the Human Rights Division of the General Security Directorate told the UKBA FFM that between 2000 and 2007, 354,279 police officials had received human rights awareness training. The Human Rights Division also said that they had held courses since 2003 to inform personnel working in the anti-terrorism branch about the latest ECHR verdicts made in relation to Turkey, advice from the CPT and information on the latest issues and concerns in the field of human rights. [59] (S16.3)

11.45 Mr Sedat Ozcan said a draft code on police ethics was also being prepared intended to create stronger cooperation between the police and local communities. The code would provide guidelines for police in the operation of their daily duties and increase the quality of the service they provided. It would also be drafted in line with Copenhagen criteria and ensure that the role of police officer was defined as a profession. [59] (S16.8)
11.46 Mr Ozcan also stated that work to standardise conditions in detention centres was also underway. To date, 81%/ 2888 of detention rooms in Turkey met minimum international standards and efforts were ongoing to make improvements to the remaining 547. Human Rights Division advised that not all detention rooms could be standardised as some were situated in preserved/ historical buildings. [59] (S16.12)
11.47 As part of work to standardise detention centres in Turkey, CCTV had been installed in centres in 16 provinces. Mr Ozcan explained that this was to avoid suicide and self harming in detention and to prevent baseless allegations made against the police for human rights violations. [59] (S16.13)

11.48 Ms Douglas-Todd, Resident Twinning Advisor, Independent Police Complaints Commission Project Team told the UKBA FFM that the main strength of the current complaints system in Turkey was that Turkish citizens could go to various official and non governmental bodies to initiate a complaint about a law enforcement officer, which would then be taken forward to the judicial process, if a criminal matter. The main weakness in the system was poor recording of data with regard to complaints against law enforcers. The IPCC project therefore envisaged setting up a framework to publish such data on an annual basis to allow future trend analysis. It was envisaged that the IPCC project would take four years to complete and be conducted in two phases: firstly, to conduct a consultation and set up the necessary legislative changes; and, secondly, to establish the IPCC itself. The consultation paper was expected to be issued in May 2008. [59] (S18.3)

11.49 The Human Rights Presidency 2007 report on Human Rights ‘Conclusion and Evaluation’ noted that:
“According to the arrangement sent to all Province and Sub-province Human Rights Councils of Turkey by the Prime Ministry Human Rights Presidency, delegations with three members, at least one of which is a member of a civil society organization, were gathered and these delegations started to visit police and gendarme detention centers. These delegations carry out visits to these detentions centers, with or without notice, every month and prepare reports after these visits. These reports are sent to Prime Ministry Human Rights Presidency every 3 months. This is a quite positive improvement about temporary prisons.” [79] (p32)
11.50 The Human Rights Presidency 2007 report futher noted that:
“Detention Centers within the General Command of Gendarmerie that were out of standards were closed and standard temporary prisons of sub-provinces and centers were started to be used instead of these. Among 2456 temporary prisons within this Command, 1638 were brought into standards, and studies for bringing others into standards also are being continued. All around the country, among 2888 temporary prisons that belong to the police, improvements were completed in 2341 and are being continued in 547.” [79] (p32)
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12 Prison conditions

12.01 The UN, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Addendum 2007 noted that:

“The prisons (with the exception of military prisons) are administered by the General Directorate for the Penitentiary System, which is under the authority of the Ministry of Justice. Responsibility for the legal aspects of detention in each prison is, however, vested in the local Chief Prosecutor, who delegates a prosecutor to each prison. Since 1997, the prison infrastructure has undergone a substantial renewal: since 1995, 475 new prisons have been established and since 1990, 238 old prisons have been closed. As of 6 October 2006, there were 67,795 detainees in the penitentiary system, corresponding to 91 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants.” [20b]

12.02 The International Centre for Prison Studies Prison Brief for Turkey (website information last modified on 30 July 2008), stated that in 2007 the number of establishments/institutions was 458. The official capacity of prison system was 90,558 (April 2008) while the occupancy level was 105.5 per cent (April 2008). The total Prison population (including pre-trial detainees/remand prisoners) totalled 95,551 (April 2008 Ministry of Justice) and female prisoners at 3.4 per cent (March 2008). [78]
12.03 The UN, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Addendum ‘MISSION TO TURKEY’, 2007 noted that:
“The first and most striking observation the Working Group made during its visit to Turkey was that both the criminal justice system and the penitentiary system were well organized, well administered and well funded. In the police stations the Working Group visited, holding cells were clean, registers clear and generally complete, and interrogation rooms designed following a model layout and equipped with a video camera.
“Courts similarly conveyed the impression that the Government allocates adequate resources to the judiciary and to prosecutorial offices. As a result, delays in criminal proceedings are generally limited and the duration of trials in which the defendant is in custody is generally reasonable. This is evidenced also by the statistics concerning the number of remand detainees among the overall number of persons deprived of liberty, which is just above 50 per cent. While it would of course be desirable for significantly less than half of the prison population to be awaiting judgement, the ratio in Turkey is reasonable by international standards.” [20b] (p15)

12.04 The Amnesty International 2008 report covering events from January to December 2007 noted that “Harsh and arbitrary punishments continued to be reported in ‘F-type’ prisons. A circular published in January granting greater rights to prisoners to associate with one another remained largely unimplemented. Some prisoners were held in solitary confinement and small-group isolation. Widespread protests called for an end to the solitary confinement of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, and for an investigation into his treatment.” [12e] (Prison conditions)

12.05 The European Commission 2007 report published 6 November 2007 noted that, “Provisions regarding the application of solitary confinement for persons sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment remain in force. Such a regime needs to be applied for as short time as possible and be based on an individual risk assessment of the prisoner concerned. Furthermore, cases of ill-treatment by prison staff have occurred.” [71c] (p14)
12.06 The US State Department Report (USSD) 2007, published on 11 March 2008, noted that:
“Prison conditions generally improved during the year but facilities remained inadequate. Underfunding, overcrowding, and insufficient staff training were problems…On March 25, Ahmet Ersin, a member of parliament from Izmir and member of the ’parliament’s Human Rights’ Committee, complained to the press about overcrowding in Turkish prisons. Ersin gave the example of ’Izmir’s Buca Prison, which had a capacity of 1,300 but housed 2,500 prisoners…According to the medical association, there were insufficient doctors, and psychologists were available only at some of the largest prisons. Several inmates claimed they were denied appropriate medical treatment for serious illness.

“Despite the existence of separate juvenile facilities, at times juveniles and adults were held in adjacent wards with mutual access. Observers reported that detainees and convicts occasionally were held together. Occasionally inmates convicted for nonviolent, speech-related offenses were held in high-security prisons.” [5g] (Section 1c)

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