EUTCC statement on CPT reports

Press Release
For immediate release 6 August, 2020

New CPT reports on Turkey

The Council of Europe’s anti-Torture Committee (CPT) recently published two reports on prison’s conditions in Turkey. CPT’s visit in May 2019 to Turkey was to examine the treatment and safeguards afforded to persons detained by law enforcement agencies. On the same visit, the delegation went to Imrali F-type High-Security Prison (Imrali Prison). CPT’s goal was to examine the treatment and conditions of detention of the Kurdish political leader Abdullah Öcalan, as well as other prisoners held there in order to review the measures taken by the Turkish authorities in the light of the recommendations made by the CPT after the visit April 2016.

CPT has found that the situation regarding the prisoners’ regime had not improved at all since CPT’s last visit in 2016. All prisoners on the island were still being held in solitary confinement most of the time, which CPT found unacceptable. No visits by lawyers had been granted since July 2011 and hardly any visits by family members had taken place since October 2014. This is obviousely in contrast to various relevant international human rights instruments and standards.

In 2011, UN Special Rapporteur Juan E. Méndez also concluded in his report on solitary confinement that indefinite and prolonged solitary confinement amount to torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

For 16 years, the EUTCC has organized annual international conferences in the European Parliament, focusing on the Kurdish question and democratic processes in Turkey. The final resolution of each conference urge the European Union, the United States, the international community and all democratic forces to use their political influence to encourage Turkey to find a peaceful, political solution to the Kurdish question. Furthermore, each conference call upon the EU member states, European institutions and the United Nations to take diplomatic, political and legal measures to compel Turkey to comply with international law concerning the ongoing isolation of Abdullah Öcalan. Concerning the Covid pandemic, special attention should be paid to Imrali Island and Abdullah Öcalan. Much can take place under the guise of Covid 19, such as sudden illness and death. Therefore, it is of crucial importance to have constant attention on Mr. Öcalan’s prison conditions.

The EUTCC agrees with CPT’s findings and will refer to these reports in order to refocus attention to some aspects that are not only relevant for human rights in general, but also in the context of a political solution to the Kurdish question and democratization of Turkey in particular.
EUTCC urge the Turkish government immediately to release Abdullah Öcalan and to return to dialogue and peaceful negotiations for a political solution to the Kurdish question. A solution of the Kurdish question is essential in order to achieve peace in the entire Middle East.

On behalf of the EUTCC Board

Kariane Westrheim

Dersim Dagdeviren
Board member