Asrin Law Office criticizes the CPT for not inspecting Imrali during Turkey visit

The Asrin Law Office has issued a statement on the Turkey visit of the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT). The office, which represents Abdullah Öcalan and the other three prisoners on Imrali, criticizes the fact that no visit was made to the prison island and that it itself was not consulted.

The statement of the Asrin Law Office reads as follows:

“The fact that the CPT has been in Turkey for various visits between January 11 and 25 is something we have learned from media statements by the CPT and the Ministry of Justice. According to the CPT, several detention centers under the Ministry of Interior and some prisons under the Ministry of Justice have been visited. The CPT has also stated that it has also raised certain issues relating to the implementation of previous CPT recommendations on the situation of prisoners in Imralı.

In this regard, we would first like to state that we consider the CPT visit important with regard to the institutionalization of human rights and the prevention of torture. This is how we assess all their visits and talks that have taken place. However, in this context, we would also like to recall the developments following the August 5, 2020 report on the CPT’s last visit of May 6-17, 2019. We have already communicated these developments to the CPT.

The CPT stated in summary in its August 5, 2020 report that the isolation on Imrali amounted to ‘punishment within punishment’ and was unacceptable and a cause for concern. The Government of Turkey was called upon to put an end to this state of affairs. In practice, the Turkish government has responded as follows: Instead of bringing about the changes and improvements that fit these recommendations, the right to telephone contact has been banned on September 7, the right to lawyer visitations on September 23, and the right to contact with relatives and legal proxies on September 30. In other words, communication has been prevented in an absolute form and the isolation on Imrali has deepened even more.

In the wake of these developments, we informed the CPT and, in addition to our requests in domestic Turkish law, we applied to the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Human Rights, and the Directorate of the Penitentiary System to implement the recommendations of the CPT’s report. However, no corresponding development has taken place and we have not yet received a response. There is no second prison for which the CPT is responsible as an international human rights mechanism within the Council of Europe member states regarding torture and isolation as a continuous and stable system. That it is a torture system is also clearly stated in the 2014 ECtHR judgment. This state of affairs has also been established during the CPT’s eight visits to Imrali since 1999.

For these reasons, we consider it insufficient that despite the CPT addressed the issue of torture in Imrali Prison during its visit to Turkey in 2021, it did not visit the prison or ask the legal counsel for their opinion. The CPT itself knows that no further visit to Imrali has taken place since the visit by family members on March 3, 2020, and we have received no further news at all since the telephone contact of April 27, 2020. With the prohibition orders, the isolation has been tightened.

We would also like to remind that this and similar actions of international institutions contribute to the continuation of the isolation and torture system on Imrali permanently.

Imrali is a prison that is not only under the responsibility of Turkey, but under agreements of all member states of the Council of Europe. Legal standards are completely ignored in this prison. The unlawful and arbitrary treatment in Imrali prison must be stopped immediately. On the occasion of this latest development, we once again invite the responsible parties to respect the law and the public to pay attention.”