780 children in Turkey’s jails with their mothers: Report

The number of children locked up in Turkish prisons with their mothers has increased to 780 in November, an Ankara-based human rights organization has stated in a report.

The Rights Initiative on Saturday organization released a report entitled “Children belong in their houses, not in prisons,” which reveals the conditions in Turkish prisons where hundreds of children stay with their mothers.

The conditions of Turkey’s prisons are far from ideal and do not meet international standards, especially when it comes to those keeping female prisoners with children between the ages of zero to six, the report outlined.

The initiative referred to the Articles 48-52 of the Bangkok Rules, officially known as “The United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders.”

The articles indicate that prisons should provide adequate and timely food, a healthy environment and regular exercise opportunities for pregnant women, babies, children and breastfeeding mothers.

The environment provided for the upbringing of children in prisons must be as close as possible to that of a child outside the prison and their development must be monitored by specialists, the rules also say, adding that those children should never be treated as prisoners.

The initiative’s report also cited research released on January 21, 2019, that is based on interviews with 3776 participants including women who stay behind bars with their children in Turkey and their acquaintances.

The research notes, according to the statements of the 86 percent of the participants, jails in Turkey keep three times more female prisoners than the existing capacity in the women’s wards.

While 84 percent of the participants argue that the physical conditions of Turkish prisons are not suitable for human life, more than 67 percent emphasize that the female prisoners are not treated humanely by the jail personnel.

The report added that more than half of the research participants express that mothers staying in Turkish jails with their children do not have regular access to clean, hot water and health care services, and they also cannot spend adequate time at the prison yards.

The initiative on Saturday called on Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to effectively enforce Article 16 of the Law on the Execution of Penalties and Security Measures.

The article states that “the execution of the prison sentence against a woman who is pregnant or who gave birth less than six months ago shall be postponed.”

The report also included a “permanent solution” for children behind bars that the Turkish government should also “immediately legalize postponing the execution of the sentences against women who have children between the ages of zero to six as well as women who are pregnant.”

Members of the initiative finally vowed in the report to continue organizing campaigns and events with the aim of raising the public’s awareness about the hundreds of children in Turkey’s prisons until the governments provide a permanent solution for them.

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