Back Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on Turkey

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has published today the report on its fifth periodic visit to Turkey, which took place from 4 to 17 June 2009, together with the response of the Turkish Government. Both documents have been made public at the request of the Turkish authorities.

In the course of the visit, the CPT’s delegation interviewed a large number of persons detained in various police or gendarmerie establishments and remand prisons throughout Turkey and gained the distinct impression that the downward trend seen in recent years in both the incidence and the severity of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials was continuing. Nevertheless, a number of credible allegations of recent physical ill-treatment were received, which concerned mainly excessive use of force during apprehension. In response to a specific recommendation made by the Committee in this regard, the Turkish authorities have issued a circular to all central and provincial police units inter alia emphasising the need to avoid ill-treatment and excessive use of force.

Particular attention was paid during the visit to the conditions under which immigration detainees were held. In this connection, major shortcomings were found by the delegation in several of the detention centres visited, in particular at Ağrı and Edirne (e.g. severe overcrowding, dilapidated conditions, limited access to natural light, poor hygiene, lack of outdoor exercise, etc.). As regards the legal situation of immigration detainees, it became evident that they were being detained without benefiting from basic legal safeguards. Shortly after the visit, the Turkish authorities informed the CPT that the unit for male adult detainees at Edirne had been withdrawn from service. In their response to the visit report, the authorities have provided additional information concerning the measures being taken to improve the situation of immigration detainees. In particular, they refer to plans to construct several regional detention centres for foreigners, to replace many of the establishments currently in use.

Hardly any allegations of physical ill-treatment of prisoners by staff were received in most of the prison establishments visited by the CPT’s delegation. Konya E-type Prison constituted an exception to this favourable situation; the delegation heard several allegations of physical ill-treatment by staff and it also gained the impression that inter-prisoner violence was a rather frequent occurrence in this establishment. As regards conditions of detention, many of the prisons visited were overcrowded, barely coping with the ever-increasing prison population. Further, the possibilities for organised activities (such as work, education, vocational training or sports) were limited for the vast majority of prisoners, including juveniles. In the report, the CPT has also expressed serious concern about the inadequate provision of health care to prisoners and a dramatic shortage of doctors in prisons. In their response, the Turkish authorities provide information on various measures taken to implement the recommendations made by the Committee on the issues described above.

The CPT’s visit report and the Turkish Government’s response are available on the Committee’s website:

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