Turkey / Dire prison conditions: Overcrowding and lack of healthcare

The Şanlıurfa Bar Association Human Rights Centre, in collaboration with the Urfa Branch of the Association of Lawyers for Freedom and the Urfa Branch of the Human Rights Association, has conducted comprehensive interviews and visits to three prisons in the Urfa province between July 21, 2023, and August 9, 2023.


The findings of this joint initiative have unveiled deeply disturbing conditions, including rights violations, cases of torture, and health-related complaints among prisoners. The organizations have released a detailed report based on the obtained data and testimonies, urging immediate attention to the deteriorating situation.

The report highlights the alarming state of the interviewed prisoners, who were found to be pale, weak, and visibly ill.

Urfa T Type No 1-2 Prisons: Overcrowding 

The report exposes a grim reality at the Urfa T Type No 1 Prison, revealing that its actual capacity is 680 inmates, but the current population exceeds 1400. Similarly, the situation at Urfa T Type No 2 Prison is disheartening, with an official capacity of 680 and a current population of 1395.

This overcrowding has resulted in inadequate living conditions. For instance, a significant number of inmates are forced to sleep on the floor due to insufficient beds.

Routine neglect regarding access to healthcare and timely treatment

The report highlights a dire need for comprehensive medical attention as over 270 chronically ill prisoners are present in the facility.  However, the report also underscores the difficulties prisoners face in accessing healthcare services, particularly in emergencies:

  • Astonishingly, 59% of prisoners stated that they cannot access health services during emergencies, shedding light on a troubling lack of immediate medical attention.
  • Moreover, 92% of prisoners reported that their treatment routines were not being followed appropriately.
  • According to the report, dental treatment has been neglected due to institutional inadequacies.
  • Shockingly, some prisoners have waited over a year for dental care, despite having requested referrals.
  • Many prisoners described hospital referrals as forms of torture, leading them to avoid seeking medical help even when urgently needed.

The report states that during the transfer to the hospital, handcuffs were not removed on the way to and from the hospital for hours, the soldiers who took the prisoners to the hospital often insulted and even beat them.

Voices of the Victims: Torture and Neglected Healthcare

The report features excerpts from interviews with prisoners, painting a distressing picture of their suffering:

  • Mehmet TÜRKMENOĞLU, who was subjected to inhumane treatment during his arrest, shared how he underwent bypass surgery and his needs for close medical attention.
  • Yusuf YORULMAZ detailed the spinal cord injury and concussion he suffered due to torture during his detention in 1994, which left the right side of his body numb.
  • S., who suffers from diabetes and blood pressure, disclosed how he was tortured upon his arrest, resulting in ongoing health problems.
  • E. is dealing with a severe heart condition that has caused him significant problems. Additionally, he experiences brain attacks as a result of the torture he endured.
  • A. is experiencing multiple issues after being subjected to torture, including headaches, trembling, and problems with his jaw.
  • A.M. complained that his shoulder hurts as a result of the torture he endured.
  • Y., who underwent torture in the 1990s, now faces complete paralysis as a lasting consequence of the traumatic experience.

Human Rights and Prisoner Welfare

According to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, states are under the obligation of preventing torture and ensuring redress including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible for victims of torture. However, the report shows Turkey violated both the victims’ rights of being free from torture and the right to redress.

International human rights treaties which Turkey is party to enshrine the inherent rights of all human beings, including prisoners, and recognizes the importance of treating prisoners with humanity and respect for their inherent dignity.

The report meticulously presents instances where prison authorities have failed in their duty to provide safe and healthy living conditions. The overcrowding, lack of access to healthcare during emergencies, and neglect of treatment routines serve as stark examples of the authorities falling short of their obligations outlined in the Turkish Constitution and the conventions which Turkey is party to.

Urgent Call for Reform

In light of these distressing findings, the Şanlıurfa Bar Association Human Rights Centre, the Urfa Branch of the Association of Lawyers for Freedom, and the Urfa Branch of the Human Rights Association call for immediate and comprehensive reforms within Turkish prison system. Urgent actions are needed to address overcrowding, provide adequate healthcare, and ensure the humane treatment of prisoners in line with international human rights standards.

Categories: Situation in Turkey, Torture and Impunity, Turkey Human Rights Blog

Tags: , ,

%d bloggers like this: