Country of Origin Information Report


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E and F-Type Prisons
12.07 The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) visited Turkey from 7 to 14 December 2005 and their report issued on 6 September 2006, noted that:
“In contrast to all the other prisons visited in December 2005, the delegation heard numerous allegations of the ill-treatment by staff of inmates at Adana E-type Prison. These allegations emanated from both prisoners at the establishment and from persons who had previously been held there. The ill-treatment alleged related for the most part to slaps, punches and kicks, as well as verbal abuse; however, some allegations of falaka [beating the soles of the feet] were also received. NGO representatives met by the delegation in Adana, including members of the Bar Association, also expressed concern about the situation in the E-type Prison. The general picture that emerged was of an establishment in which a very strict code of behaviour was enforced, with any breach – no matter how minor – likely to meet with physical chastisement. Such methods are unacceptable; any prisoner considered to display disobedience should be dealt with only in accordance with prescribed disciplinary procedures. Moreover, Adana E-type Prison was grossly overcrowded at the time of the December 2005 visit, with some 950 prisoners for a capacity of 450. To give an example of the practical effects of this situation, in one unit the delegation found 22 prisoners sharing an upstairs dormitory of some 24 m2, ten of them sleeping on the floor on mattresses.” [13a] (paragraph 41)

12.08 The CPT September 2006 report noted that:

“The CPT has never made any criticism of material conditions of detention in F-type prisons, and the facts found during this most recent visit confirmed that they are of a good standard. However, the Committee has repeatedly stressed the need to develop communal activities for prisoners outside their living units; it is unfortunately very clear from the information gathered in December 2005 that the situation in this regard remains highly unsatisfactory. In each of the three F-type prisons visited, the considerable potential of the facilities for activities was far from being fully exploited. a state of affairs openly acknowledged by the staff of the establishments. Admittedly, the continuing reluctance on the part of most prisoners to make use of the workshops was largely responsible for the gross underuse of these particular facilities. However, the very limited possibilities for association (conversation) periods and sport - activities in which an increasing number of prisoners wished to engage - must have another explanation.” [13a] (paragraph 43)
12.09 The CPT September 2006 further noted that:

“According to the relevant regulations prisoners who so wish, can be brought together in groups of up to ten persons for five hours conversation per week. However, this already modest amount of association time was far from being offered in Adana (or elsewhere). Prisoners, in groups of up to nine, had five to six one hour conversation sessions per month. As for sport, prisoners wishing to take part in this activity were being offered four sessions per month (two in the gym and two in the outdoor sports facility).The Prison Director indicated that access to sport would amount to some two hours per week; however, from the activity programmes seen by the delegation, most of the sessions lasted one hour. In contrast, those few prisoners (about a dozen) who went to the two workshops which were operating spent a considerable amount of time engaged in the activities concerned. Those going to the pottery workshop had access to it for up to 10 hours per week, and prisoners attending the drawing workshop could spend there up to 25 hours a week. The only other regular weekly out-of-unit activities consisted of family visits (one hour), and telephone calls (10 minutes). Apparently, no prisoners requested to go to the library, a state of affairs which the CPT finds difficult to comprehend. To sum up, a typical prisoner in Adana F-type Prison would spend at best scarcely 5 hours a week outside his living unit.” [13a] (paragraph 44)

12.10 The CPT 2006 report further stated that:
“The situation in Tekirdağ F-type Prison No 1 was rather similar, though the groups of prisoners taking part in association and sport tended to be smaller than in Adana. Workshop activity was greater than at Adana, with more than 50 prisoners attending six workshops; certain of these prisoners spent up to 30 hours per week in the workshop concerned. A small number of prisoners attended religious classes on a weekly basis, and access to the library was apparently possible, also on a weekly basis…” [13a] (paragraph 45)
12.11 The CPT 2006 continued:
“The Director of each of the F-type prisons visited argued that the limited number of staff at their disposal was a major obstacle in developing activities. The need to keep so many prisoners separate from others for their ‘life security’ was another inhibiting factor. The CPT does not underestimate these difficulties (though as regards staff resources it remains to be seen whether the problem relates to numbers or is rather one of the manner of deployment of the existing resources). However, the Committee is also convinced that one of the underlying causes of the present situation is a continuing failure on the part of the prison authorities to display a sufficiently proactive, enterprising approach vis-à-vis this subject. The situation observed to date by the CPT in F-type prisons amounts to a missed opportunity. Capable of being rightly regarded as a model form of penitentiary establishment, they currently remain open to the accusation of perpetuating a system of small-group isolation…” [13a] (paragraph 47)

12.12 The CPT 2006 report also elucidated that:

“In the same way as during previous visits to Turkey, the information gathered during the December 2005 visit revealed serious problems related to the availability of health-care resources in prisons and the training provided to doctors called upon to work in such establishments. After having been vacant for some nine months, the post of prison doctor at Tekirdağ F-type Prison No 1 had finally been filled a few weeks before the CPT’s visit. However, the doctor concerned had only graduated from medical school in the summer of 2005. At Tekirdağ F-type Prison No 2, the post of prison doctor had been vacant for six months. To fill the gap, doctors came on temporary rotation from the local State Hospital Emergency Department, the doctor in the establishment at the time of the delegation’s visit having been there for three weeks.” [13a] (Paragraph 55)
12.13 The CPT also clarified that:
“Healthcare services were if anything even more poorly resourced at other prisons to which the delegation went during the visit. For example, at Adana E-Type Prison, there was only one doctor for almost 1,000 prisoners, and at Bayrampaşa Closed Prison only three doctors for more than 3,000 prisoners. As for Van M-type Prison (an establishment accommodating 275 prisoners at the time of the visit, but which had held more than 400 in the recent past), it had been without a full-time doctor for almost two years. Responding to an appeal from the Prison Director, the former prison doctor (who had resigned from the prison service) attended the establishment twice a week.” [13a] (paragraph 55)
12.14 The CPT 2006 further stated that:

“In Tekirdağ F-type Prisons No 1 and 2, the delegation encountered a small number of prisoners who had been placed in single cells on psychiatric grounds. None of them were receiving the care required by their state of health. In this connection it should be noted that neither of the doctors assigned to the establishments had any competence or experience in treating psychiatric disorders, and there were no consultations at the prisons by visiting psychiatrists. The delegation formed the view that the mental state of at least one of the prisoners concerned – held in a single cell in an otherwise completely empty block at Tekirdağ F-type Prison No. 2 – was such that he should be placed in a secure psychiatric establishment.” [13a] (paragraph 52)

12.15 The EC 2007 report recorded that “The improvement of the physical infrastructure of prisons as well as the training of staff continued. As concerns high-security F-type prisons, a circular was issued to address previously identified shortcomings of the communal activities for inmates. Prisons are subject to regular inspection visits by the Penal Institutions and Detention Houses Monitoring Boards, and visits of UN bodies and the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture.” [71c] (p14)
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Military Prisons
12.16 As noted in a Country of Origin Research of the Canada Immigration and Refugee Board, Ottawa, dated June 2003 entitled Turkey: Conditions in military prisons, it was noted that:
“Information on Turkish military prisons is scarce and limited to scattered references often lacking in details about the prisons and the conditions in them. The Research Directorate was able to find references in publicly available documents to a few military prisons located across Turkey. Mamak Military Prison in Ankara, Mamak Military Prison in Eskisehir, Mamak Military Prison in Adana, Diyarbakir Military Prison, Umraniye Military Prison in Istanbul, Military Prison in Izmir, Edirne Military Prison, Metris Military Prison in Istanbul, Maltepe Military Prison in Istanbul, Davutpasa Military Prison, Davutpasa Military Prison in Izmir, Edirne Military Prison, Hasdal Military Prison, Gelibolu Military Prison, Kartal Military Prison in Istanbul and Selimiye Military Prison.” [7g]

12.17 As noted in a Country of Origin Research of the Canada Immigration and Refugee Board, Ottawa, dated 29 May 2007 entitled Turkey: Treatment of prisoners and conditions in military prisons, it was noted that:

“In July 2005, a soldier named Murat Polat died of injuries he sustained at a military prison in Adana at the hands of 29 military officers. The 20-year old soldier was allegedly tortured and beaten by dozens of officers and conscripts in the prison, where he was serving a sentence for desertion and theft.” [7h]
12.18 The European Commission 2007 report published 6 November 2007 noted that “…outstanding problems in prisons include: overcrowding, lack of consistent implementation of provisions regarding communal activities, restrictions on prisoners’ correspondence, and inadequate health/psychiatric resources. Furthermore, civil and military prisons are not open to monitoring by independent national bodies, pending the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture. 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)
Monitoring of prison conditions
12.19 The Human Rights Presidency 2007 report on Human Rights published 2 July 2008 noted that:

“Punishment execution institutions and prisons are inspected by ‘Councils of

Punishment Execution Institution and Prison Monitoring’ which include

representatives of civil society organizations. Law about Change in the Law of

Councils of Monitoring Punishment Execution Institutions and Prisons dated

20.11.2007 and numbered 5712 was published in Official Newspaper dated

04.12.2007 and numbered 2670 and invoked. With this new law, number of members in these monitoring councils were increased from five to five principal and three backup members. It is compulsory that one of the principal members is selected from women. Concrete activities are carried out for elimination of deficiencies identified by these Councils. Declaration of the reports of these Councils to the public is necessary in order to achieve transparency.” [79] (p31)

12.20 The same Human Rights Presidency 2007 report also noted that “Prisons are also visited by delegations gathered by Province and Sub-Province Human Rights Boards. These visits are allowed in some provinces, whereas they are

not in others. These visits should be allowed in all provinces, which is a necessity of the democratic state and the transparency principle. Regulation should be reviewed if necessary.” [79] (p31)

12.21 The Human Rights Presidency 2007 report also 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…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. 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.” [79] (p32)
12.22 The same Presidency 2007 report also noted that “trainings [sic] for other personnel like prison employees were held. These activities are considered positive for achieving universal standards about human rights.” [79] (p30)
12.23 The United States Department of State (USSD) 2007 published 11 March 2008 report noted that:

“The government has permitted prison visits by representatives of some international organizations, such as the European Committee to Prevent Torture and the CPT, though it was unclear at ’year’s end the extent to which such visits occurred during the year. The CPT reported on its Web site that it performed an ad hoc visit in May to visit Imrali Island, where PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan was detained, and visited psychiatric facilities in 2006. Domestic NGOs did not have access to prisons. Domestic human rights organizations and activists reported that prison monitoring boards composed of government officials and private individuals were ineffective.” [5g] (Section 1c)

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13 Death penalty
13.01 The European Commission reported in 2006 that “With respect to the right to life and, in particular, the abolition of the death penalty, Turkey ratified, in March 2006, the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which aims to abolish the death penalty. Protocol 13 to the ECHR, which abolishes the death penalty at all times, was ratified in February 2006. Turkey abolished the death penalty in its national legislation, in all circumstances, in 2004.” [71a] (p61)
13.02 As outlined in the May-June 2005 issue of Newspot (published on the website of the Office of the Prime Minister, Directorate General of Press and Information) in an article on the new Turkish Penal Code, “The new Turkish penal code went into effect on June 1 [2005], along with the penal procedures and the law on the execution of sentences. The new penal code changes the duration and number of penalties in certain cases…Terrorist Abdullah Öcalan and similar criminals will remain in prison indefinitely.” [36d]
13.03 The Amnesty International List of Abolitionist and Retentionist Countries (1 January 2006) report noted that the date provided for the last execution carried out in Turkey as being in 1984. [12h] (p4)
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14 Political affiliation

Freedom of political expression

14.01 The European Commission 2007 Progress report published 6 November 2007 stated that:

“Parliamentary elections were held on 22 July 2007. Voter turnout was over 83%. Following an invitation from the Turkish authorities, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, OSCE/ODIHR, carried out an election assessment mission. In a press statement, the OSCE/ODIHR stressed that the electoral process was characterized by pluralism and a high level of public confidence underscored by the transparent, professional and efficient performance of the election administration. A delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) also observed the elections and came to similar conclusions.” [71c] (p6)

14.02 The EC 2007 Progress report also stated that:
“Three parties crossed the 10% threshold of the national vote required to be represented in Parliament. These were the Justice and Development Party (AKP) with 46.6%, resulting in 341 seats, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) with 20.9% (99 seats) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) which obtained 14.3% (70 seats). 26 independent candidates were also elected. 20 of these, from the Democratic Society Party (DTP), formed their own political group. This brought the number of political groups to four. Additional parties represented in parliament are the Democratic Left Party (DSP), with 13 Members of Parliament, the Grand Unity Party (BBP) and the Freedom and Democracy Party (ÖDP) with one seat each.” [71c] (p6)
14.03 The EC 2007 report further noted that:

“The newly-elected parliament is now more representative of the ’country’s political diversity. Nevertheless, the debate continued on reducing the 10% threshold, which is the highest among European parliamentary systems. This issue was also brought to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which ruled in January 2007 that the threshold does not violate the right to free elections. However, it also noted that it would be desirable for the threshold to be lowered in order to ensure optimal representation, while preserving the objective of achieving stable parliamentary majorities. The issue was referred to the Grand Chamber. Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which ruled in January 2007 that the threshold does not violate the right to free elections. However, it also noted that it would be desirable for the threshold to be lowered in order to ensure optimal representation, while preserving the objective of achieving stable parliamentary majorities.” [71c] (p7)

14.04 The United States Department of State (USSD) 2007 report published 11 March 2008 noted that:
“The constitution and law provide citizens with the right to change their government peacefully, and citizens exercised this right in practice through periodic, free, and fair elections based on universal suffrage. However, the government restricted the activities of a few political parties and leaders. The 2007 parliamentary elections were held under election laws that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) found established a framework for democratic elections in line with international standards. The law requires a party receive at least 10 percent of the valid votes cast nationwide to enter parliament.” [5g] (Section 3 Right of Citizens to Change their Government)
14.05 As noted in the Human Rights Watch (HRW) World Report 2008, covering events of 2007 published 31 January 2008:
“Prior to the general election, the Turkish military intervened directly in the political arena by voicing opposition to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and by decisively influencing a constitutional court decision to block the presidential candidacy of the AKP’s Abdullah Gül. The AKP nevertheless won 47 percent of the vote in the early general election precipitated by the presidential crisis, and subsequently secured the election of Abdullah Gül as president. The AKP government embarked on plans for a new constitution to replace that put in place under the military regime in 1982.” [9b]

14.06 The OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) in an assessment report for the Turkish parliamentary elections which took place on 22 July 2007 noted that:

“The overall conduct of the elections represents a notable achievement against a background of political tensions which arose in the spring of 2007, following the failure by parliament to elect a new president. The elections demonstrated the resilience of the election process in Turkey, characterized by pluralism and a high level of public confidence…The registration of political parties and independent candidates was generally inclusive, offering voters a wide and genuine choice. Parties had sufficient ability to convey their messages to the voters, although the campaign took place in a polarised atmosphere.
“Turkey has a comprehensive legal framework for elections, conducive overall to the delivery of a democratic process. However, political campaigning, and in a broader context freedom of expression, are constrained by a number of restrictions in the Penal Code, Law on Political Parties, and media laws which create the potential for uncertainty and scope for arbitrary interpretation.” [14a] (Executive Summary)
14.07 The same OCSE report also noted that:

“Additionally, aspects of the legislation could be reviewed in order to enhance

transparency and ensure equitable conditions for all election contestants…The 10 percent threshold for political party representation in the allocation of seats in the TGNA is unusually high and remains the highest in the OSCE region. The OSCE/ODIHR noted the positive efforts made to enhance the participation of Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin in political life. Legislation, however, continues to prohibit the use of languages other than Turkish in the election campaign.” [14a] (Executive Summary)

14.08 The OCSE report further noted that “Political parties eligible for seat allocation are those which are registered to contest the election and which receive at least 10 percent of the valid votes cast nationwide. The size of the threshold in Turkey is unusually high and is the highest in the OSCE region. Candidates may compete as individuals and are not subject to the 10 percent threshold.” [14a]
See also paragraph 19:22 Pro-Kurdish Political Parties
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Freedom of association and assembly
14.09 The US State Department Report (USSD) 2007, published on 11 March 2008, noted that:
“The law provides for freedom of association; however, there continued to be several restrictions on this right in practice. Under the law, associations need not notify authorities before founding an association, but still must provide such notification before interacting with international organizations, and/or receiving financial support from abroad, and provide detailed documents on such activities. Representatives of associations said this placed an undue burden on their operations.” [5g] (Section 2b)

14.10 The USSD 2007 report also noted that, “Foreign associations wishing to conduct programs in the country were required to submit detailed reports to the government on each activity, despite the fact that local partners were required to report on the same projects. According to the Third Sector Foundation of Turkey, an NGO advocacy organization, the criteria for NGOs to obtain public benefit status, entitling them to certain tax exemptions, were restrictive and complicated. Applications for public benefit status must be approved by the Council of Ministers. The law does not allow applicants to appeal if their petitions are rejected. Unlike the previous year no organizations were closed by the government or courts.” [5g] (Section 2b)

14.11 The European Commission 2007 Progress report published 6 November 2007 stated that:
“Use of languages other than Turkish remains illegal in political life. Several investigations and court cases have been opened against officials and executives of the Democratic Society Party (DTP) for alleged infringements of Article 81/c of the Law on Political Parties which forbids the use of languages other than Turkish by political parties10. In February and April 2007 several members and executives of the Rights and Freedoms Party (Hak-par) were sentenced in two separate Court cases for having spoken Kurdish at ’party’s general congresses. A Court case for the closure of Hak-par is pending.” [71c] (p22)
14.12 The EC 2007 Progress report also noted that:
“The legal framework for freedom of assembly is broadly in line with European standards. Citizens have been able to exercise this right without interference by the authorities or the security forces in most cases. Mass demonstrations were held peacefully in Ankara, Istanbul and İzmir during the presidential election period. Few violent incidents were reported during the Kurdish New Year (Newroz) celebrations. However, there is an investigation into the use of excessive force by the police at the 1 May demonstration in Istanbul when more than 700 persons were detained.” [71c] (p15-16)

14.13 The USSD 2007 report also noted that, “Members of the Judges and Prosecutors’ Union (YarSav) faced legal pressure to close down the organization. The organization at various times criticized the Ministry of Justice for selecting employees based on their personal beliefs. On August 17, Ankara Governor Kemal Onal applied to the Ankara chief prosecutor and Council of State to dissolve the organization because it allegedly violated the constitution and the Law on Associations. The Council of State denied the request. At ’year’s end the organization continued to operate.” [5g] (Section 2b)

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