Parliamentary commission to look into torture claims at juvenile prison
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Progressive Lawyers’ Association claimed that children in Şakran prison were kept for days and months in cells that were as small as three meters square. DHA photoThe Turkish Parliament’s human rights commission will perform inspections at a number of prisons following reports of torture and ill-treatment at a juvenile prison in İzmir’s Aliağa district.
The president of the Human Rights Commission, Ayhan Sefer Üstün of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said in a statement that he would personally visit Şakran Prison June 3 and another prison in the southern province of Antalya June 4. The commission has monitored a total of 26 prisons over the parliamentary year, he added.
The situation at Şakran Prison has stirred huge concerns after the Progressive Lawyers’ Association claimed May 28 that children were kept for days and months in cells that were as small as three meters square. The prison had been visited and called exemplary by the parliamentary human rights commission, but the lawyers association also claimed that the isolation rooms had been cleared out ahead of official inspections.
Giving details on the content of the previous reports, Üstün said it was seen as a model because of its practices encouraging the rehabilitation of children. “There are as many personnel as convicted and arrested [children]. To this day, our commission has prepared the reports objectively. We will make it public if incidents such as have been claimed occurred. But if the claims are untrue, the issue will be clarified,” he said, adding that they would show zero tolerance for ill treatment.
The association had cited children’s testimonies of isolation for days and months, emotional abuse, denial of medical assistance and severe beatings, including one instance where a prison warden, named Ercan, had beaten an inmate with a hose.
However the Justice Ministry had immediately dismissed the report, saying the 238 cameras installed at the site would make any such abuse impossible, adding that no one named Ercan worked at the prison. No petitions have been filed, despite inmates claiming otherwise, according to the ministry.
Following the release of the report, Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy Ertuğrul Kürkçü also visited Şakran and said prisons had became “houses of torture and rape for children.” “The Justice Ministry officials should have charged the responsible parties instead of covering up [their acts],” he said.
All prisons under the Justice Ministry are open to inspections by all national and international groups, the statement said, while inviting the parliamentary human rights commission to re-inspect the prison due to the public interest.