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Covid-19 outbreak and the situation in Turkey's prisons



Prisons continue to be one of the most serious risk areas amid the Covid-19 pandemic. As of 27 April 2020, there have been confirmed cases of Covid-19 in 16 prison facilities across 13 provinces.


According to media reports, examinations have indicated that at least five people have lost their lives due to the outbreak and at least 127 have contracted the virus.


The number of infections and deaths according to open sources and Ministry statements are as follows:


Prisoners who have lost their lives


Media reports have indicated that five prisoners have died of Covid-19. Mehmet Yeter’s family members have revealed his name and that he has died in the Samsun Bafra Type T Closed Prison. Reports have also revealed the name of İsmail Hıta, former police officer who was purged from public service by an emergency government decree and who has died of the disease in the İskenderun Prison. The Ministry of Justice has not revealed to the public the identities of the other three prisoners who have lost their lives.


Prisoners who have been infected


At least 127 prisoners are known to be infected thus far. Reports on the media have also claimed that some prisoners who have been released under the early release law have tested positive for coronavirus.


Prison officers who have been infected


The Ministry of Justice has announced that a total of 79 prison officers have tested positive for Covid-19. In addition, media reports indicated that 52 others have also contracted the virus. Therefore, it is believed that at least 131 officers have been infected.


Assessments


While the Ministry of Justice has only confirmed three deaths of prisoners which took place in “open prisons” (açık cezaevi), reports have revealed that two prisoners have died of the disease in “closed prisons” (kapalı cezaevi), which leads to a suspicion that the ministry is hiding the deaths in closed prisons.


The ministry confines itself to broad statements and does not inform the public as to the precise number and the location of infections behind bars.


No testing is being conducted on prisoners.


The fact that some prisoners who have been released ended up testing positive for Covid-19 points to a likelihood that the outbreak behind bars have reached proportions significantly beyond what has been officially confirmed.


Above all, considering the risk that a prisoner contracting the virus brings with it a high risk that other prisoners in the same facility are also infected, the potential number of cases is much higher than what has been announced. In disregard of this reality, the ministry takes no precautions and does not adequately inform the public and the relatives of prisoners.

OTHERS AISBL | BELGIUM