• Urgent Action

Urgent Action Update: Release Those Unfairly Imprisoned and Most at Risk (Turkey: UA 43.20)

April 17, 2020

As the threat of COVID remains present in Turkey, in particular with recent cases of infections in prisons, the lives of thousands of prisoners and staff in overcrowded and unsanitary prisons are at increased risk. On 13 April, Parliament passed a law that would allow the early release of up to 90,000 prisoners. However, the law excludes many prisoners that should qualify for early release, including journalists, human rights defenders and others imprisoned unfairly under anti-terror laws simply for exercising their rights, and people in pre-trial detention.

  1. Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to one or both government officials listed. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
  2. Click here to let us know the actions you took on Urgent Action 43.20. It’s important to report because we share the total number with the officials we are trying to persuade and the people we are trying to help.
Mr Abdülhamit Gül Minister of Justice Due to postal restrictions caused by COVID-19, please only send physical mail to the Embassy Fax: +90 0312 419 33 70 E-mail: [email protected] Twitter: @abdulhamitgul Facebook: @abdulhamitgul
Ambassador Serdar Kiliç Embassy of the Republic of Turkey 2525 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington DC 20008 Phone: 202 612 6700 | 6701 Fax: 202 612 6744 Email: [email protected] Contact Form: https://bit.ly/2HZCUZu Twitter: @SerdarKilic9 @TurkishEmbassy Facebook: @turkishembassy Salutation: Dear Ambassador

Dear Minister, I have learned that Parliament passed a law on 13 April which will allow the early release of up to 90,000 prisoners. In the context of the deadly spread of COVID-19 across Turkey, any decrease of numbers of prisoners in Turkey’s overcrowded and unsanitary prisons is a welcome step. However, the law fails to include many persons who should qualify for early release, and as a result, is putting the lives of thousands of prisoners and staff at serious risk. According to your own figures, at the time of writing, three prisoners have died, and 17 prisoners and 79 prison staff have tested positive. Due to the seriousness of the situation, I urge you to immediately release unjustly imprisoned people including journalists, human rights defenders, activists and others jailed unfairly under anti-terror laws simply for exercising their rights; give urgent consideration to the release of those held in prison on pre-trial detention who have not been convicted of any offense and those who are at particular risk in prison from COVID-19 where their health cannot be guaranteed; ensure that those who cannot be released have access to medical attention and healthcare to the same standards that are available in the community, including when it comes to testing, prevention and treatment of COVID-19; and ensure prison staff and healthcare workers have access to adequate information, equipment, training and support to protect themselves. Yours sincerely, ADDITIONAL RESOURCES