Thursday, July 14, 2005

Isolation at prisons should be eliminated

BIA (Istanbul) - "Health conditions at prisons should be improved and isolation should be eliminated," said the Istanbul Chamber of Physicians. "The complaints of the families of inmates are worrying." Calling on the government to cooperate with local physicians chambers.

The Istanbul Chamber of Physicians (ITO) has called on the government to improve the physical and psychological health conditions of the inmates, especially of those at the maximum-security F-type prisons. The Chamber has also asked the government to cooperate with the chambers of physicians when needed.

Through legal amendments, the government has left the people's right to a healthy life to the mercy of the market, the ITO board of directors said in a written statement. "This is also affecting the prisoners."

ITO said that tens of people have chosen to die since the "returning to life" operation 4.5 years ago. It cited the complaints of the families of inmates and added that health conditions at the F-type prisons are threatening the lives of the prisoners.

"The prisoners are forced to live in physical and social isolation," said the statement. "From the increasing number of complaints from their families, it can be told that the prisoners are deliberately left to die.

Prison authorities are preventing treatment although some inmates have serious health problems. They are only transferred to hospitals at the very last stage of their sickness. They are even prevented from using medicine."

ITO had earlier applied to the Justice Ministry and proposed that an independent group of physicians, under the supervision of the Turkish Physicians Association, inspect the health services in prisons. The Justice Ministry rejected the proposal saying "health services are being provided in the related units," according to ITO.

Media is silent about the issue

"Media's silence about what's going on in the prisons is interesting," said ITO, adding:

"The pressure and insults the inmates and their families are faced with at the F-type prisons are unacceptable and cannot be kept in the dark anymore. They virtually have no rights. It is clear that hiding this problem would only lead to the creation of a cruel political regime and would have no contribution to the democratization of our country." (KO/EA/YE)

"Execution and punishment system more important than type of prisons":

A report prepared by professional unions in Izmir has said that the type of prison was not important, but punishment and execution systems should be discussed. The death fasts, held by leftist prisoners for more than 200 days in protest against the cell-based F-type prisons, and the construction and health standards of the F-type prisons were discussed in the report.

It was alleged that the problem did not come from the type of prison, the main problems causing riots and bickering in the prisons were the policies on execution and punishment implementations. Various professional unions prepared reports in their own fields.

The Izmir Bar Association prepared a report on jurisprudence, Construction Engineers prepared a report on the inner design of prisons and the physicians union prepared a report on health conditions within the prisons.

Their reports were merged to be published as a booklet. The final report has been prepared after long evaluation and investigation into the current situation of the prisons.

The report stated that the prisons, developed by the Justice Ministry, were not hotels, but the prisoners have social and cultural rights during their stay in the prisons.

Construction and health conditions

The report also contains the datum of report on prisons, which was prepared by the Human Rights Commission of the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM).

Inner design of the prisons was evaluated in the report, focusing on the Kiriklar F-type prison. Dangerous prisoners have been identified by the objective criteria in democracy, the basic principles to identify the prisoners were listed in the report:

"A proper system should be provided for prisoners to express their grievances and report violations subjected to themselves and enmities among themselves. Measures have to be taken to reduce the bickering and enmity among prisoners.

They should be given the opportunity to act freely, and security measures should be taken if there are any dangerous event. Implementation of the security measures must be only toward the dangerous prisoners.

"The implementation of the F-type prisons could cause isolation, and due to this isolation serious health problems could be experienced. Toilets have been designed to double as shower rooms which may cause infections among the prisoners.

"Qualified personnel should be appointed to the prisons and practically experienced professionals should be employed by the prisons to carry out executions. Both personnel and the prisoners have a right to participate the administration of the prison. Different execution judiciary should be established in the prisons."

Pertaining to the health conditions and medical rights of the prisons, the report said: "Medical treatment of prisoners should be given to sick prisoners, the kind of the treatment should be told to prisoners. The health service must be available equally to each prisoner. Prisoners must be informed before all medical treatments. Professional independencies of the doctor and other personnel who work in the prisoners have to be ensured."

The conclusion of the report said that the construction of the F-type prisoners should be up to modern standards, and the reform of the prisons should be probed by all authorities.

The report, consisting of 77 pages, explains how the prisons have been designed. It states that some 250 prisoners have died since 1981 for various reasons. The creator of the report said that the prisons have been considered problematic because of the execution and punishment policies.

"It has been announced by the Justice Ministry, referring to the reform on the prisons, that the F-type prisons in Turkey are up to European standards. F-type prisons are not hotels, they were built to house dangerous criminals. It is the highly established security execution methods," they added.

557 prisons in Turkey

According the report there are some 557 prisons in Turkey now, containing 72,000 inmates, the total capacity of prisons is around 73,000. It was claimed in the report that only these 13,000 prisoner should be kept in the F-type prisons.

By 14 July 05


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