Rights Groups Urge End to Ill-Treatment in Turkey\'s New Jails
Two leading human rights organizations expressed concern Saturday over reports of torture or ill-treatment of prisoners in Turkey's controversial new jails and called on Ankara to treat its inmates humanely.
In a statement received here, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged "immediate reforms to the Turkish penal system" after researchers from both groups interviewed prisoners' relatives and doctors and lawyers with access to the new jails, who spoke of maltreatment.
"These sources consistently indicate that the prisoners were beaten and some tortured before, during and after the transfers to the new prisons," the statement said.
"The Turkish government is accountable and must put an immediate stop to these abuses," it added.
The new prisons, commonly known as F-types, went into service last month when paramilitary troops stormed 20 jails across Turkey to end a hunger strike by left-wing inmates against the new institutions.
The prisoners are fiercely opposed to the F-type jails -- where old-style large dormitories are replaced with cells that hold up to three people -- on the grounds that they will be more vulnerable to maltreatment and torture when isolated in smaller units.
Turkey's four-day operation ended with some 30 prisoners dead, most of whom burned themselves to death, and two soldiers, while hundreds of inmates were hastily dispatched into three of the new prisons.
Saturday's statement said that there were also reports of prisoners being prevented from associating with other prisoners or taking part in recreational or sports activities.
"Many prisoners have gone without human contact for days, apart from roll-calls which were frequently accompanied by violence," it said.
The statement added that despite appeals, Amensty International and HRW researchers were denied talks with the Turkish justice ministry or access to the prisons.
Both groups called on Ankara to allow lawyers and independent doctors into the new jails to investigate torture claims and for the regime of solitary isolation to be lifted.
They also appealed for broad access to members of medical and human rights organizations into the institutionas to ensure that they are run in accordance Turkish law and international standards for the humane treatment of prisoners.
"The groups also urge the Council of Europe with its expertise in the area of prison management to take an active interest," the statement said.
Turkey's Justice Minister Hikmet sami Turk denied last week similar claims by a Turkish human rights association that prisoners in F-type jails were "beaten... regularly tortured... raped with truncheons and urinated on".
But despite the massive clampdown on the striking prisoners, some 350 inmates are continuing a hunger-strike over the new jails, while over 1,600 others are fasting in solidarity -- ANKARA (AFP)
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