Number of prisoners in Turkey soars as their conditions worsen

According to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK), the number of prisoners in Turkey has markedly increased in recent times. Human rights defenders have additionally stated that the conditions of prisoners have worsened. TÜİK said that the number of people held in prisons in Turkey reached 291,546 as of 31 December 2019.

This represented a 10.1% percent increase since 31 December 2018. 84.1% of the people held in prisons in 2019 had been sentenced, with the remaining 15.9% being arrested persons. TÜİK’s data suggests that the number of people held in prisons represented 163 per 100,000 people as of 31 December 2010.

By 31 December 2018, this figure had risen to 323 per 100,000 people. By 31 December 2019, this figure had risen to 351 per 100,000 people. TÜİK also indicated that 430 of every 100,000 people above the age of 12 had been imprisoned at some stage in Turkey in 2019.

Worsening conditions of prisoners

Human rights associations and activists have also drawn attention to the increasingly harsh conditions that prisoners face.

On 10 October, the Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu released a report detailing the violation of human rights that occurred amongst prisoners in Turkey in September.

The ‘Torture and Mistreatments in Prison’ section in that report detailed 105 violations that took place in prisons and the ‘Torture’ section provided details of 150 violations, including five violations against children.

On the other hand, the Freedom for Ill Prisoners Initiative held its 321st action in late October. It issued a press statement in the Human Rights Association’s (İHD’s) building in Ankara and drew attention to the conditions of ill prisoners.

İHD Central Executive Board member Nuray Çevirmen said: “The right to live is protected by the state and it is a primary right. However, problems are mounting due to the invisibility of prison conditions in society”.