More than 24,000 drug convicts in jail, harsher penalties given: Turkish Justice Minister
Oya Armutçu – ANKARAThere are currently 24,615 drugs convicts in jail in Turkey, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has said, calling on locals to denounce drug sellers wherever they see them.
“Let anyone who is using drugs know, let anyone who sees their children using drugs and not taking precautions, or who sees drug sellers in schools and neighborhoods but does not denounce them to the security forces, [let them] know they are supporting bullets going to the mountain,” Bozdağ said, referring to the headquarters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is partly financed by drug trafficking.
Drug use has been high on Turkey’s agenda in recent weeks, with apparently rising use of the dangerous synthetic drug “bonzai” particularly among poor urban youths.
Bozdağ said penalties regarding production, sale, and use of drugs have been made harsher in recent years.
“With these changes in the laws, the penalties for producing, exporting and importing drugs and stimulants have increased from 10-20 years in jail to 20-30 years. The penalty for selling drugs has increased from five to 15 years in jail up to a sentence of no less than 10. If the convict has sold drugs to a child, the penalty’s lower limit has been increased to 15 years in jail,” he said.
The government has also made it easier for drug addicts to reach treatment, within the scope of a recently initiated immediate action plan in the fight against drugs, according to Bozdağ.
“In line with a change in the 192nd article of the Turkish Criminal Law’s [TCK], if a drug addict applies to health institutions, the obligation of civil servants and health personnel to ‘report the crime’ has been lifted, so it has made it easier for drug users to apply to hospitals and health institutions and receive treatment,” he said.
The Justice Ministry has made it possible for the adjournment of legal cases if drug users seek treatment, Bozdağ stated.
Also in line with the changes, if the suspect uses drugs again during their treatment and control process, this will no longer be considered a violation and it will not automatically lead to another prosecution against them.