Ministry probe on jail rape

Ministry probe on jail rape

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Ministry probe on jail rape

Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin inspects Sincan Juvenile Prison in Ankara. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

All minors incarcerated in the Adana juvenile prison hit by allegations of maltreatment and sexual abuse are to be transferred to Ankara, and four prison administrators have been removed from office, Turkey’s justice minister said yesterday.

“All children will be brought here within a week. They will be put in one-person rooms. This is a requirement for their psychological rehabilitation,” Sadullah Ergin said at a press conference at the Sincan juvenile prison near Ankara.

He said two deputy directors at the Pozantı juvenile prison in Adana, as well as its former director and his deputy, had been removed from office and re-assigned to other positions as part of what he described as initial measures while ministry inspectors are investigating the allegations.
“Every single allegation will be investigated. We cannot tolerate the slightest negligence or misuse of power. We will resort to other measures if necessary,” Ergin said.

Three inspectors are currently at the Pozatı prison interviewing children in the company of psychologists, he said.

The Justice Ministry has come under fire for turning a blind eye to the allegations, of which it is said to have been notified as early as June last year by Parliament’s Human Rights Commission. Lawmakers from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), who visited the prison this week, said the allegations reported so far appeared to be “only the tip of the iceberg.” They said Ergin had advised them against visiting the prison on grounds that the inmates were linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and thus fabricated the claims.

Doctors alarmed

Volunteer doctors for the Human Rights Foundation (IHV) have been treating the children, but said their requests to visit those still behind bars had been rejected by the Justice Ministry.

Three doctors compiled a report in 2011, after 25 children contacted the association over the abuses. Doctor Alev Aksungur told the Hürriyet Daily News they had conducted a psychological examination of the children, but that a physical examination was not possible due to the “severe depression” and trauma of the children.

The children’s accounts of their prison life included torture, insults, profanity, contempt, death threats, their heads being slammed against moving elevators, legs being propped on chairs and beaten with sticks, their heads being struck with a walkie-talkie, solitary confinement, strippings, beatings, and cold water being poured over them.

“These tortures were carried out by prison guards as well as other prisoners who were instructed to do so by the guards,” the report claimed.

The report also detailed incidents of sexual abuse and rape between prisoners that were allegedly known to prison officials. “No child can admit to being raped. We examined these children and saw that they had been systematically tortured and have very serious psychological trauma,” said Aksungur.
She said the inspectors sent to the prison would not be able to uncover the truth. “It is not possible for these children to trust the inspectors and open up to them. They are scared and depressed.”