F-type Prisons (Turkey)

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F-Typ-Prisons or in its official title F-type High Security Closed Institutions for the Execution of Sentences (F tipi cezaevi / F Tipi Yüksek Güvenlikli Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu) are called high security prisons according to the Turkish Law 5275 on the Execution of Sentences.

Kırıklar F-type Prison, near İzmir © Google Earth

The F-type prisons were erected in particular to accommodate imprisoned members of armed organization. Apart from them people imprisoned for drug offences or organized crimes are placed in these prisons. In addition, people sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment are put in F-type prisons.[1] Aggravated life imprisonment (ağırlaştırılmış müebbet hapis cezası) replaced the death penalty that was abolished in 2002[2] and according to Article 47 of the Turkish Penal Code (TPC) should in principle last until the death of the convicted person.

History

Before F-type prisons were built prisoners in Turkey would be held in wards with up to 50 or more prisoners. In April 1991, the Turkish parliament enacted the Anti-Terror Law, which requires that: "The sentences of those convicted under the provisions of this law will be served in special penal institutions built on a system of cells constructed for one or three people ... Convicted prisoners will not be permitted contact or communication with other convicted prisoners."[3]

This tight regime was slightly changed in Article 1 of Law 4666 of 1 May 2001. On 29 June 2006 Article 16 of the Anti-Terror-Law was cancelled, since other provisions had been enacted.

"Pilot-Project" Eskişehir

The first high security prison was created in reconstructing a prison built in 1987 in Eskişehir. Having cells instead of wards the prison was reopened in February 1991. This prison did not carry the name of Type F, but was called "special type prison". Prisoners criticized the cell system as "coffin" (tabutluk). In November 1991 206 political prisoners were transferred to Eskişehir. Justice Minister Seyfi Oktay and the State Minister responsible for Human Rights, Mehmet Kahraman went to the prison on 22 November 1991, accompanied by representatives of the Human Rights Association (HRA), the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT) and the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) and listened to allegations of torture and ill-treatment. Two days later the Council of Ministers decided to close the prison again.[4] In October 1995 the prison was opened again. The attempt of 1996 to transfer all prisoners on trial in Istanbul under the Anti-Terror-Law to Eskişehir failed, after 12 prisoners had died during a hunger strike declared to be a fasten to death.[5]

On invitation of the Turkish Government the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) visited the prison in Eskişehir in August 1996. It had little to criticize and found the prisoners' term of "coffin cells" far from reality.[6]

The incidents in 2000

In mid-2000 the discussion on F-type prisons got harsher. The then Justice Minister Hikmet Sami Türk was determined to shift towards the "cell system.[7] Reacting against the plans to be transferred to the new prison, where they presumably would be held in isolation inmates of the prisons in Bayrampaşa, Bartın, Çankırı, Çanakkale, Aydın, Bursa, Uşak, Malatya, Niğde, Buca, Ankara Central Closed Prison, Konya-Ermenek, Nevşehir, Gebze and Ceyhan started a hunger strike on 26 October 2000. Until 19 November 2000 a total of 816 prisoner in 18 prisons had joined the hunger strike and declared that they would turn their action into a "death fast". [8]

The compromise Justice Minister Hikmet Sami Türk offered on 9 December 2000 (no immediate transfers to F-type prison and a loosening of Article 16 in law 3713) was not sufficient for the prisoners so that negotiations of well known personalities including Orhan Pamuk, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature (not at the time though) failed. On 19 December 2000 Turkish security forces stormed 20 prisons in an action named "Operation Return to Life". 30 prisoners and two soldiers were killed.[9]

The transfers to the F-type prisons started immediately after the operation on the prisons. On 21 December 2000 the Ministry of Justice announced that 524 prisoners had been transferred to the F-type prisons in Edirne, Kocaeli and Sincan.[10] But this was not the end of the prisoners' action. On 3 January 2001, the Justice Minister announced that 1118 inmates and detainees from 41 prisons were on indefinite hunger strike, while 395 were on death fast.[9]

Development after 2000

During the ongoing fast to death action more and more prisoners died. At the end of 2001 the chairs of Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara Bar Association suggested a solution they called "three doors, three locks" (üç kapı, üç kılıt).[11] This would have enabled nine prisoners (three each in three rooms) to get together during the day. While the prisoners announced that they would stop their action, if the proposal was accepted the Justice Minister Hikmet Sami Türk declared the proposal unacceptable and himself made the offer that 10 prisoners could come together for 5 hours a week.

In May 2002 Hüsnü Öndül, chair of the HRA called on the Justice Minister to enter an intensified dialogue and appealed to the prisoners to stop the senseless deaths. On 28 May prisoners of almost all groups involved in the hunger strike action ended the death fast. Only the DHKP-C continued the action.

End of the action: Decree 45/1

Behiç Aşçı, lawyer in Istanbul, joined the fasten to death action in 2006. When his health deteriorated public attention increased. At the end of the year Bülent Arınç, at the time chairing the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, met with relatives of Aşçı and representatives of NGOs. He said that the house representing the nation could not stay insensitive on a subject on which a lawyer insisted risking his life and indicated that the Ministry of Justice and the government would act.[12]

Behiç Aşçı and two prisoners continuing the action declared that they would disrupt their action, after they had read Decree 45/1 of the Ministry of Justice dated 22 January 2007.[13] This decree that included many more provisions it was allowed that 10 prisoners in the F-type prisons may come together for 10 hours per week (before it had been five hours per week).

In and outside prison a total of 122 people in connection with actions against isolation in F-type prisons. Many more were suffering from serious diseases such as the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. In the Annual Report 2006 the HRFT presents the following figures on deaths during the fasten to death action:

Number Cause of death
32 operation "Return to Life"
48 death fastening in prison
13 continued death fastening after release
3 death during treatment
7 relatives fastening to death
5 police action again solidarity hunger strikes
14 protesters setting themselves on fire

One protest by setting themselves on fire happened in Germany. There are another 12 victims of suicidal attacks said to have been conducted as a protest against the F-type prisons.

The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey treated 593 former prisoners suffering from the Wernicke-Korsakow-Syndrome.[14] They had either been pardoned by State President Ahmet Necdet Sezer according to Article 104 of the Constitution[15] or temporarily been released according to Article 399 of the Turkish Code of Criminal Procedure (Law 1402).

The buildings

All F-type prisons are built according to a certain plan.[16] After a visit to Turkey between 16 to 24 July 2000 the CPT presented the following details on the F-type Prison in Sincan (close to Ankara):

Like all F-type prisons, the establishment at Sincan will consist of 103 units for 3 prisoners each and 59 individual units, with a total capacity of 368 inmates. Most of the accommodation is intended for adult male prisoners (72 units in two separate wings), but there are also distinct wings for women prisoners (14 units) and minors (18 units). The delegation examined a furnished “model” duplex unit meant for three persons, as well as a wing of single living units.
The lower level living area in the duplex measured 25 m² and was connected to a corridor on one side and an exercise yard (measuring 50 m²) on another side...
The single cells measured approximately 11 m², including a fully partitioned sanitary annex of 1.5 m²...[17]

Comments on F-type Prisons

The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) generally encouraged Turkey to move away from the system of dormitories towards the cell system found in F-type prisons. In a report of 6 September 2006 (on a visit to three prisons between 7 and 14 December 2005) the CPT reiterated that The CPT has never made any criticism of material conditions of detention in F-type prisons... and then continued However, the Committee has repeatedly stressed the need to develop communal activities for prisoners outside their living units; it is unfortunately very clear from the information gathered in December 2005 that the situation in this regard remains highly unsatisfactory. [18]

In the same report the CPT drew special attention to people sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment, who according to Article 25 of Law 5275 have to be held in individual cells. The report stated inter alias:

The three F-type prisons visited in December 2005 were accommodating a small number of prisoners serving a sentence of aggravated life imprisonment. Their only out-of-cell activity, apart from a visit every 15 days and a fortnightly telephone call, was outdoor exercise in the courtyard adjoining their cell...
The application of an isolation-type regime is a step that can have very harmful consequences for the person concerned and can, in certain circumstances, lead to inhuman and degrading treatment.
...beyond this, the CPT considers that the very philosophy underlying Article 25 of the Lw on Execution of Sentences should be rethought.

In December 2007 and January 2008 the Association of Contemporary Jurist (Çağdaş Hukukçular Derneği = ÇHD) conducted research on the implementation of Decree 45/1. 25 lawyers went to six prisons and talked to 120 prisoners. Afterwards they stated that the possibility of 10 hours of conversation per week in groups of 10 prisoners was not observed in the F-type prisons in Tekirdağ (2), Kocaeli (1) and Bolu. In Tekirdağ F-type Prison (1) this right had been cancelled three months ago. In Kandıra F-type Prison (2) the time was limited to 2.5 hours, just like in Kocaeli F-type Prison (2) and Edirne, where this right had been granted a months ago.[19]

The Human Rights Association (HRA) and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT), too, have criticized the isolation in F-type prisons. Details can be found in the HRA report on prisons in the Marmara region or the annual report 2007 (reports in Turkish). Since the English pages of the HRFT are under construction (as of August 2009) it is possible to search the website of the Democratic Turkey Forum (DTF, the German solidarity group of the HRFT), where a backup system for reports exists since 2008.[20]

Amnesty International (AI) has issued several reports raising concern on isolation and atrocities in F-type prisons. In the Memorandum to the Turkish Government the chapter on F-type prisons stated inter alias:

Amnesty International has long held concerns regarding the “F-Type” prison regime, and in particular, harsh and arbitrary disciplinary punishments and isolation of prisoners.
Amnesty International calls on the government to discontinue the use of solitary confinement and small-group isolation as a punishment for prisoners and to increase the hours of association in line with international standards.

In the document AI's concerns in Europe and Central Asia (July-December 2006) the organization stated: Six years on from the opening of the F-type prisons, serious complaints about the regime in these prisons continued... Prisoners, their lawyers and human rights groups continued to raise concerns about harsh and arbitrary disciplinary punishments meted out to prisoners in F-type prisons and reported treatment of prisoners which, in some cases, AI would consider as amounting to term cruel, inhuman and degrading.

The New York based organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) has issued many reports related to F-type prisons, before and after they were operated. On 5 April 2001 the report Small Group Isolation in F-type Prisons and the Violent Transfers of Prisoners to Sincan, Kandira, and Edirne Prisons was published. It discussed the background of the transfers of hunger strikers to F-type prisons and repeated earlier concerns such as Many prisoners also believe that they face a greater risk of ill-treatment by prison staff if they are transferred to a cell-based system, where there is only limited communication with other prisoners or with the outside world. One year before, on 24 May 2000, HRW had published the report Small Group Isolation in Turkish Prisons: An Avoidable Disaster. The organization stated two primary concerns Human Rights Watch has two primary concerns: (1) to the extent the cell-based system is accompanied by an isolation regime that provides prisoners with no access to educational or recreational activities or other sources of mental stimulation, the system may itself amount to ill-treatment, and (2) a regime of isolation that severely limits access to other inmates as well as the outside world may also increase the risk of ill-treatment of prisoners by prison staff.

Locations

This section uses details from the German version on the subject

On 19 July 2007 Kırıkkale F-type Prison was opened as the 13th F-type prison. Even though always been called "high security prison" the prison on the island İmralı where Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the Kurdish Workers' Party PKK is the only inmate, can and should now be called F-type prison. Answering a parliamentarian request Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin stated in August 2009 that the reconstruction of the prison to a closed high security institution for the execution of sentences had been finished. He added that another eight prisoners would be taken there, but was unable to say who the prisoners would be.[21]

Name (in Turkish) Location Website (Turkish)
Adana F Tipi Yüksek Güvenlikli Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu Adana http://www.adanafcik.adalet.gov.tr/
Ankara 1 No’lu F Tipi Yüksek Güvenlikli Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu Ankara http://www.ankaraf1.adalet.gov.tr/
Ankara 2 No’lu F Tipi Yüksek Güvenlikli Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu Ankara http://www.ankaraf2.gov.tr/
Bolu F Tipi Yüksek Güvenlikli Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu Bolu http://www.bolufcik.adalet.gov.tr/
Edirne F Tipi Yüksek Güvenlikli Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu Edirne http://www.edirne.adalet.gov.tr/ftipi.html
İzmir 1 No’lu F Tipi Yüksek Güvenlikli Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu İzmir http://www.izmirf1.adalet.gov.tr/
İzmir 2 No’lu F Tipi Yüksek Güvenlikli Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu İzmir http://www.izmirf2.adalet.gov.tr/
Kırıkkale F Tipi Yüksek Güvenlikli Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu Kırıkkale http://www.kirikkalefcik.adalet.gov.tr/
(under construction)
Kocaeli 1 No’lu F Tipi Yüksek Güvenlikli Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu Kandıra / Kocaeli http://www.kocaelif1.adalet.gov.tr/
Kocaeli 2 No’lu F Tipi Yüksek Güvenlikli Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu Kandıra / Kocaeli http://www.kocaelif2.adalet.gov.tr/
(under construction)
Tekirdağ 1 No’lu F Tipi Yüksek Güvenlikli Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu Tekirdağ no website yet
Tekirdağ 2 No’lu F Tipi Yüksek Güvenlikli Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu Tekirdağ http://www.tekirdag2fkapalicik.gov.tr/index.html
Van F Tipi Yüksek Güvenlikli Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu Van http://www.vanfcik.adalet.gov.tr/

Weblinks

References

  1. Details can be found in Article 9 of the Law 5275 on the Execution of Sentences; online edition of the law in Turkish)
  2. By Law 4771 of 9 August 2002 (the 3rd Package for the Harmonization to the European Union) the death penalty was abolished in peace time. Law 5218 of 14.07.2004 abolished the death penalty completely.
  3. Quoted from the Report of Human Rights Watch: Small Group Isolation in Turkish Prisons 24 May 2000
  4. Details were taken from the Annual Report 1991 of the HRFT, pages 113-115
  5. Details taken from the Annual Report 1996 of the HRFT have been put into a special report of the Democratic Turkey Forum
  6. complete report accessed on 19.08.2009; paragraph 28 reads: Material conditions of detention at Eskişehir Special Type Prison were far removed from the "coffin-cell" reputation which the establishment had acquired (a reputation which presumably originated from the short period several years ago when the prison operated with single cells - cf. paragraph 19). As pointed out in the CPT's letter of 13 September 1996, the material conditions compare favourably with those which CPT delegations have observed in other Turkish prisons.
  7. Bakan Türk: Cezaevleri F tipi olacak, ntvmsnbc.com, accessed on 7 February 2009.
  8. Most details can be found in the special report of the DTF.
  9. 9.0 9.1 See an English report of Helsinki Citizens Assembly in Turkey, accessed on 25 August 2009
  10. See Article in Hürriyet accessed on 19.08.2009
  11. Most facts of this chapter were taken from the Annual Report 2002 of the HRFT (in Turkish), pages 187-190, ISBN 975-7217-40-9
  12. F tipine Meclis duyarsız kalamaz, Hürriyet, accessed on 26 August February 2009.
  13. See Report of the Independent Prison Monitor Group in Izmir (Turkish) and Weekly Report of DTF (German)
  14. See the German translation of a press statement of 16.01.2004
  15. an article of 10.04.2007 states that State President Sezer pardoned 213 member of militant organizations in 2002 and 2003
  16. Some details can be found in instruction of staff in F-type prisons (in Turkish), accessed on 26 August 2009
  17. See the CPT report of 8 November 2001, accessed on 26 August 2009
  18. complete report of 6 September 2006
  19. See an article in the daily Radikal of 10.04.2008, accessed on 24 August 2009
  20. You can search for F-type (English), F-tipi (Turkish) or Typ F (German) in the relevant wikis. http://www.tuerkeiforum.net/enw/index.php/Main_Page is the main page in English
  21. See an article in the daily Radikal of 18.08.2009