AN URGENT DOSSIER
- The lives of tens of political prisoners are under threat.
- Urgent call to all humanitarian associations and international institutions
- Any delayed reaction will cost the lives of political prisoners in Turkish Prisons
- The hunger strike is in its 43rd day
- Every minute counts
An unprecedented system of isolation and torture is taking place in Turkish prisons Continue reading
1 May 2014
Deniz Akgul, a British citizen originally from North Kurdistan, recently had an extradition request dismissed after the Westminster Magistrates Court found that the government of Turkey had deliberately misled British courts and abused the extradition process.
In a remarkable ruling, the district judge Shenagh Bayne dismissed Turkey’s request to extradite Mr Akgul, who was accused of providing ‘material support’ to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the form of food, books and cameras under Article 220/7 of the Turkish Penal Code. In her final judgement, the judge not only concluded that the Turkish government abused the extradition process, but she also accepted evidence that Mr Akgul had been previously tortured by Turkish authorities and would face a real risk of further ill-treatment were he to be returned to Turkey.
His barrister, Ben Cooper, has defended some of the most complex extradition cases and won numerous successes on human rights grounds. He has defended ETA suspects and IRA suspects, as well Babar Ahmed and others accused of terrorism by the US. Peace in Kurdistan Campaign spoke with him to find out more about the case and why the ruling is so important.
Following the publication of the EP’s resolution on the 2013 Turkey Progress Report, another European institution has put Turkey under the spotlight this week, the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT). The CPT visited the island of Imrali in January 2013 and laid out their finding in a report, which is available to download here.
The CPT found that Abdullah Ocalan is being denied the same amount of open air time as the five other prisoners, and that he is not still allowed to have contact with them during his outdoor exercise despite earlier recommendations that this should be allowed. They add, “Out of a total of 168 hours per week, prisoners could stay outside their cells for up to 36 hours (22 for Abdullah Ocalan), but they were able to be in contact with other inmates for only 8 hours per week; in other words, they were being held in solitary confinement for 160 hours a week.”
The CPT goes on to say: “More generally, the CPT must stress once again that the regime applied to prisoners serving a sentence of aggravated life imprisonment suffers from a fundamental flaw and and should be revised not only at Imrali prison but in the prison system as a whole….as a matter of principle, the imposition of such a regime [of isolation] should not be the automatic consequence of the type of sentence imposed. The Committee wishes to stress that life-sentenced prisoners (as indeed all prisoners) are sent to prison as punishment and not to be punished within the prison.”
The report reveals the torturous levels of solitary confinement suffered by the prisoners, especially Ocalan. At one point in 2011, Ocalan was held in continuous cellular confinement for a total of 240 days as part of a disciplinary punishment, far exceeding the CPT’s owen recommendations to impose this kind of solitary on an inmate for just 14 days at a time. “Such a state of affairs is totally unacceptable”, the report concludes.