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Turkey plans to spend $2 billion building 91 new prisons

Sunday 12/May/2019 - 01:34 PM
The Reference
Shaimaa Hefzy

The Turkish Ministry of Justice plans to construct 91 new prisons by 2021 with an investment of 13 billion lira (around $2 billion), Turkish newspapers have been reporting recently.

The construction of 48 prisons has started, taking the number of prisons built since 2006 to 166.

The ministry plans to finance the construction of the new prisons by income generated through the Prison Workshops Institution, which employs some 58,595 prisoners in 180 different trades in 1,700 jail workshops across Turkey.

The institution earned 4 billion lira ($643,000) in 2018, Sözcü newspapaer said. The daily salaries of prisoners in the workshops range between 14 lira ($2.2) and 17.75 ($2.8) lira, Sözcü reported. Prisoners who work for private sector companies earn between 30 lira ($4.8) to 44 lira ($7) a day.

The ministry also revealed that it is poised to build 43 new prisons using funds provided by its department responsible for generating income through inmate labor.

The government announced 166 new correctional facilities between 2006 and 2019. Now it plans to spend some $2 billion to introduce 91 new ones by 2021.

According to March 2019 figures from Turkey’s Directorate General of Prisons and Houses of Detention, Turkey has a total of 396 penal institutions with a capacity to accommodate some 220,000 people.

Reports have revealed that Turkish courts have sentenced 332 people to prison sentences, including 232 people who were sentenced to life in prison so far over their alleged attendance in coup making and their alleged links to the Gülen movement as part of the government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the movement.

The country’s 384 prisons and detention facilities are already overcrowded, holding 224,974 inmates as of March 20, 2018, according to the Ministry of Justice, to fix the problem, the ministry announced in December that it will build 228 more prisons over the next five years.

Turkey describes Fethullah Gülen followers as members of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and accuses them of a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of state institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

"These days you only have to have a bank account or study at a university with Gulen connections and the courts consider that you are a terrorist," Adnan Seker, a lawyer who was arrested for allegedly having ties to Gulen's movement has said in press remarks.

Human rights defenders and advocacy groups have been quietly lobbying European governments to bring an inter-state lawsuit against Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) over human rights violations on a mass scale, Nordic Monitor has reported.

“The proposed move is seen as a way of pressuring the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over an unprecedented crackdown on civil society, unions, the free press and opposition political parties.

“… This resulted in the imprisonment of tens of thousands of people in recent years including 235 journalists, putting Turkey on the map as the world’s worst jailer of journalists,” Nordic Monitor added.

Over 30 percent of all Turkish diplomats, 60 percent of all senior police chiefs, half of all military generals and some 30 percent of all judges and prosecutors in Turkey were also declared terrorists overnight by the executive decisions of the Erdoğan government without any effective administrative investigation and certainly without any judicial proceedings.