Closing Conference of the Project on Enhancing the Effectiveness of Civil Monitoring Boards in Line with European Standards in Türkiye

Ankara 29 November 2022
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Closing Conference of the Project on Enhancing the Effectiveness of Civil Monitoring Boards in Line with European Standards in Türkiye

The Project on “Enhancing the Effectiveness of Civil Monitoring Boards in Line with European Standards” came to a successful end, having contributed to substantial progress in enhancing the capacities of the national monitoring mechanism in Türkiye, and making a significant contribution to the prevention of ill-treatment in places of deprivation of liberty.

The closing conference of the Project, held on 24 November in Ankara, gathered more than 200 prison practitioners, representatives from the Ministry of Justice, the Directorate General for Prisons and Detention Houses (DGPDH), members of the Civil Monitoring Boards (CMB), representatives from the civil society, enforcement judges, prosecutors, the Ombudsman Office, the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), academics, as well as representatives from several Embassies in the Republic of Türkiye.

Mr Akın GÜRLEK, Deputy Minister of Justice of Türkiye stressed that this project had made an impact and it is important to monitor places of detention and to respect fundamental rights and freedoms of the detained and sentenced persons.

Mr Fatih GÜNGÖR, Deputy Director General of Prisons and Detention Houses, Ministry of Justice, concluded that all the foreseen project outputs have been delivered, leading to an improved cooperation and coordination among all stakeholders of the prison monitoring. The capacities of the CMB members have been significantly improved and that is important, taking into consideration the need to constantly monitor and inspect all places of detention.

Mr Staffan HERRSTRÖM, Ambassador of Sweden to Türkiye noted that “the project created an environment to enable dialogue and strengthen the mutual understanding of roles and mandates within the Turkish system between all monitoring bodies. We are very pleased with the work carried out that will further pave the way for transparency and effectiveness of the civil monitoring boards”.

Ms Tanja RAKUSIC-HADZIC, Head of Cooperation in Police and Deprivation of Liberty Unit, Council of Europe highlighted that “At the end of the project’s implementation, we have preconditions for more independent, efficient, and self-sustainable prison monitoring boards in Türkiye. Having in mind that number of prisons in Türkiye is increasing and that the number of detained and sentenced persons in 2022 has increased by 11,6 % compared to the year before, the role of prison monitors is more important than ever before”.

The relevant stakeholders commended the impact of the project. One CMB members stated that, although she is a prison monitor since 2011, she had prejudices towards some categories of inmates, and that has changed following her involvement in on-site training. Another CMB member noted that she has never experienced such beneficial training and thanks to the new working methodology they can perform adequate prison monitoring visits. The representative of the Ombudsman Office said that a lot has changed in the last three years; previously not much attention was given to the reports produced by the CMBs, now they are five persons in their offices in charge of analysing and follow up of the reports. She also added that for the very first time she was trained on the international standards in this area. The NPM representative praised the improved coordination among external monitoring bodies. The public prosecutor in Ankara said that there was a revolutionary change of mindset as the result of the project, and consequently the CMB reports are being taken into consideration by the public prosecutors.

It was concluded that the Council of Europe will continue its excellent cooperation with the DGPDH, that was awarded the Excellence Award for the Reducing Reoffending Award by the International Corrections and Prisons Association.

The closing conference was the final event organised in the scope of the Project entitled “Enhancing the Effectiveness of the Civil Monitoring Boards in Turkey in line with the European Standards” funded by Sweden, Switzerland, the Republic of Türkiye, the Human Rights Trust Fund and Canada.