Actress Tülin Özen from the Pursuit of Justice for Children group (ÇİAT) indicated that due to the discussion of "jurisdiction", courts to hear the children's cases could not be found. Hence, children and juveniles remain in prison despite legal amendments of the Anti-Terror Law enforced in July this year. Accordingly, children accused of "terror" crimes are to be tried at juvenile courts instead of high criminal courts.
In a meeting at the Istanbul Branch of the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TİHV), Özen read out a press release on behalf of ÇİAT. "Arbitrary applications of the courts such as not processing or delaying the files are still being continued", she deplored.
"Ogün Samast as the prime suspect of the Hrant Dink murder is benefiting from the amendment that was made to improve the situation of children victimized for throwing stones. This shows the conscience of the state. The ears of the political power may be deaf but we are not without a voice. We will carry on being the voice of the children".
"National Education Ministry should intervene"
Özen criticized that juveniles who were released due to the legal amendments were imprisoned again for a different reason when they turned 18 years old. She continued:
"Children were released in the course of the legal amendments in the Anti-Terror Law five months ago. Yet, there still are more than 20 children in prison in Istanbul. The children who went back to school after their release are being distanced from school because the police are closely following them on their way to school and keep on warning them. The National Education Ministry has to deal with this immediately".
Özen reminded the fact that released children and their families in Diyarbakır and Batman, two Kurdish-majority cities in south-eastern Turkey, were given immediate psychological support upon the call of ÇİAT and with the support of the Turkish Union of Bar Associations (TBB), the TİHV and the Education and Science Workers' Union (Eğitim-Sen). Since this was failed to be provided in the remaining 30 provinces, Özen stressed that the government should take the responsibility for this duty.
"State should provide rehabilitation programs"
"The government should undertake this task and allocate a budget to prepare help programs for the children and their families. This rehabilitation work has to be carried out without assimilating the children. The program should be prepared by civilians who are well aware of the regional conditions".
"The program should comprise long-term psychological support, support in education and in acquiring a profession and also workshops related to basic issues such as sports, human rights and no violence. The program should not be limited to the children only but should also include local officials who are concerned with the children like soldiers, police officers, teachers, doctors, prosecutors, judges and guards". (BT/VK)
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