On November 20, the Universal Children's Day, the Civil Society Association in Penal Execution System (CİSST) / Turkey's Center for Prison Studies (TCPS) have issued their 111-page "Child Prisoners Report" addressing the claims of violence cases, rights violations against child prisoners, applications lodged against these to information and monitoring mechanism and the results of these applications.
Child prisoners doubled in seven years
According to the statistics of the Ministry of Justice, as of April 7, 2017, there are 2,800 child prisoners between the ages of 12-18 in Turkey.
1,778 of the child prisoners (1,715 boys, 63 girls) are arrested and 1,022 of them (994 boys, 28 girls) are convicted.
According to CİSST/TCPS's Child Prisoners Report, the number of children sentenced to prison by Juvenile Courts and Juvenile Assize Courts has doubled in the last seven years.
While there were 5,728 children sentenced to prison in 2009, the figure reached 12,423 in 2016.
"NGOs not allowed to observe prisons"
The organizations pointed out that since NGOs were not allowed make any observations in prisons by visits, the report had to be prepared on the basis of data, acquired by mail correspondence with the prisoners, visits by attorneys, research through media coverage of prisons, or cases of children rights violations reported to CİSST/TCPS, other rights organizations, independent lawyers as well as to information and monitoring mechanism with regards to rights violations.
The organizations also underlined that the ministries addressed the issue in prisons only with reference to "peer violence" yet peer violence covered only a very small portion of all violence cases in prison such as maltreatment and torture.
Impunity for torture and maltreatment
The report draws attention to the fact that complaints lodged against torture and maltreatment ended up with no punishment and informed that "in the last 10 years, there were 92 applications lodged to complain against torture or maltreatment.
"Between the years of 2010-2015, 64 investigations were launched, 31 of which were initiated due to a complaint and 33 were launched officially.
"Within these 64 investigations, proceedings have been initiated with regards to 484 personnel but only one person was sentenced to prison in the end".
Most complaints from Sincan
According to the report, the complaints of only 133 children could be reached during data gathering for the time period between November 2015 - June 2017.
There were 203 complaints lodged by 133 children, 111 of the complaints were related to torture and maltreatment.
"The complaints are made from 15 different prisons and the greatest number of complaints have been made from Sincan Juvenile Prison".
18 children died in prisons in eight years
The report demonstrates that between March 2009 and March 2017, 18 children have lost their lives behind bars. 10 of these 18 children were under arrest.
Between November 2015 - June 2017, six children lost their lives in prisons. Five of these children died due to fire that broke out / that was started in their wards. The other child committed suicide. (AS/DG)
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