Newsletter 3

The Covid-19 pandemic and the situation in Turkey’s prisons

May 3, 2020

Overall outlook

The dangerous position of prisons vis-à-vis the Covid-19 pandemic is becoming increasingly prominent. As of May 3, 2020, there has been cases of Covid-19 in 20 different prison facilities in Turkey.

Media reports indicate that at least 4 people have lost their lives because of the outbreak and at least 183 prisoners have contracted the virus.

According to data on open sources and official ministry statements, the number of people infected and the death toll are as follows:

Prison facility Cases Status Individuals
Samsun Bafra Type T Closed Prison 1 Death Prisoner
Sincan Prison 1 Death Prisoner
Ministry of Justice statement 3 Deaths Prisoners
Overall deaths 5 Deaths Prisoners
Ağrı Patnos Prison 1 Infected Prisoner
Balıkesir Kepsut Prison 1 Infected Prisoner
Edirne Closed Prison 2 Infected Prisoners
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
Silivri 7th Type Closed Prison 1 Infected Prisoner
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
Konya Type E Closed Prison 55 Infected Prisoners
Ministry of Justice statement 17 Infected Prisoners
Overall infected prisoners 183 Infected Prisoners
Afyonkarahisar Type E Closed Prison 50 Infected Prison personnel
İzmir Şakran Prison 2 Infected Prison personnel
Konya Type E Closed Prison 5 Infected Prison personnel
Eskişehir Prison 1 Infected Prison personnel
Ministry of Justice statement 79 Infected Prison personnel
Overall infected prison officers 137 Infected Prison personnel


Prisoners who have lost their lives

At present, six prisoners have died of Covid-19, in light of news published on the media. In addition to the five deaths indicated in the previous report, Arif Yıldırım who was held in Sincan Prison has passed away last week.

Prisoners who have been infected

Reports said that at least 183 prisoners from across 14 prison facilities have been infected thus far. However, Minister of Justice Abdülhamit Gül has announced that 120 prisoners from four prisons have been diagnosed with Covid-19. On the other hand, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Vice-Chair Gamze Akkuş İlgezdi claimed that over the last 15 days the coronavirus cases in prisons have increased sevenfold.

Besides, Sezgin Tanrıkulu, the deputy chair of the Turkish Parliament’s Human Rights Investigation Commission and CHP İstanbul deputy, has revealed that they have received complaints about “nutrition, hygiene and access to sanitary services in prisons” more than any other topic, calling on the Ministry of Justice to inform the public about the outbreak in prisons at least once a week.

Prison officers who have been infected

The Ministry of Justice has not updated its latest announcement on prison officers who have tested positive, which had put the number at 79. In view of media reports, it is believed that at least 137 prison officers have been infected.


  • On this May 3, which is the World Press Freedom Day, 175 journalists are being held in prison on account of their journalistic work. The right to life of all imprisoned journalists are under threat on this World Press Freedom Day, particularly dozens who are in the risk group due to their age and preexisting conditions.