The Covid-19 outbreak and the situation in prisons
27 April 2020
Prisons continue to be one of the most serious risk areas amid the Covid-19 pandemic. As of 27 April 2020, there have been confirmed cases of Covid-19 in 16 prison facilities across 13 provinces.
According to media reports, examinations have indicated that at least five people have lost their lives due to the outbreak and at least 127 have contracted the virus.
The number of infections and deaths according to open sources and Ministry statements are as follows:
|Samsun Bafra Type T Closed Prison||1||Death||Prisoner|
|Justice Ministry statement||3||Deaths||Prisoners|
|Prisoner death toll||5|
|Ağrı Patnos Prison||1||Infected||Prisoner|
|Balıkesir Kepsut Prison||1||Infected||Prisoner|
|Kayseri Bünyan Women’s Closed Prison||4||Infected||Prisoners|
|Muğla Dalaman Open Prison||3||Infected||Prisoners|
|Rize Kalkandere Type L Closed Prison||26||Infected||Prisoners|
|Silivri 5th Type L Closed Prison||2||Infected||Prisoners|
|Tarsus Type T Closed Prison||1||Infected||Prisoner|
|Tekirdağ 2nd Type T Prison||1||Infected||Prisoner|
|İzmir Buca Closed Prison||65||Infected||Prisoners|
|İzmir Women’s Closed Prison (Şakran)||2||Infected||Prisoners|
|Şanlıurfa Akçakale Open Prison||3||Infected||Prisoners|
|Justice Ministry statement||17||Infected||Prisoners|
|Overall number of infected prisoners||127|
|Afyonkarahisar Type E Closed Prison||50||Infected||Prison personnel|
|İzmir Şakran Prison||2||Infected||Prison personnel|
|Justice Ministry statement||79||Infected||Prison personnel|
|Overall number of infected officers||131|
Prisoners who have lost their lives
Media reports have indicated that five prisoners have died of Covid-19. Mehmet Yeter’s family members have revealed his name and that he has died in the Samsun Bafra Type T Closed Prison. Reports have also revealed the name of İsmail Hıta, former police officer who was purged from public service by an emergency government decree and who has died of the disease in the İskenderun Prison. The Ministry of Justice has not revealed to the public the identities of the other three prisoners who have lost their lives.
Prisoners who have been infected
At least 127 prisoners are known to be infected thus far. Reports on the media have also claimed that some prisoners who have been released under the early release law have tested positive for coronavirus.
Prison officers who have been infected
The Ministry of Justice has announced that a total of 79 prison officers have tested positive for Covid-19. In addition, media reports indicated that 52 others have also contracted the virus. Therefore, it is believed that at least 131 officers have been infected.
- While the Ministry of Justice has only confirmed three deaths of prisoners which took place in “open prisons” (açık cezaevi), reports have revealed that two prisoners have died of the disease in “closed prisons” (kapalı cezaevi), which leads to a suspicion that the ministry is hiding the deaths in closed prisons.
- The ministry confines itself to broad statements and does not inform the public as to the precise number and the location of infections behind bars.
- No tests are being conducted on prisoners and the situation in prisons is being covered up.
- The fact that some prisoners who have been released ended up testing positive for Covid-19 points to a likelihood that the outbreak behind bars have reached proportions significantly beyond what has been officially confirmed.
- Above all, considering the risk that a prisoner contracting the virus brings with it a high risk that other prisoners in the same facility are also infected, the potential number of cases is much higher than what has been announced. In disregard of this reality, the ministry takes no precautions and does not adequately inform the public and the relatives of prisoners.