Our Principles

  • All works of CISST are based on human rights and human dignity. As CISST, we aim to contribute to the rights-based struggle.
  • CISST refuses all forms of violence and discrimination.
  • CISST adopts a holistic rights-based approach and does not establish any hierarchies between rights.
  • CISST recognizes that the problems related to the penal system are problems of the society, and holds that the society should take responsibility here.
  • CISST is unbiased and inclusive. During our activities we do not take sides between prisoners, or among our partners, while carrying out our work.
  • CISST rejects labelling and objectification of prisoners as ‘criminals’ and views them as holders of rights.
  • CISST is transparent. We share our findings with the public through reports and publications.
  • CISST values internationalism. We believe in international partnerships, we thus conduct and support international studies.
  • CISST believes in collectivism and democracy. We support democratic and transparent workings within our team.
  • CISST adopts the “do no harm” approach and acknowledges its responsibility in protecting confidentiality. We are careful to make sure that our activities have no negative effects on prisoners. We respect and protect the privacy of prisoners and prioritize confidentiality when sharing our findings with the public.
  • CISST is independent. In our relations with the state, donors and other third parties we do not make engagements that would impair our independence in any sense. We do not allow any interference of the supporting organizations and institutions on the content or output of our works.

Our Aims

  • Protecting the rights and liberties of prisoners and providing that these rights and liberties are compatible with human dignity and universal values;
  • Mobilizing the support of local, national and international civil society in order to maintain that the conditions in Turkish prisons meet international standards of accordance to human rights and human dignity;
  • Obtaining transparency in the prison system and strengthening its connections with civil society;
  • Raising awareness on the situation of prisoners with special needs –also called ‘disadvantaged’ or ‘vulnerable’ prisoners- such as LGBTI, disabled, elderly, foreign, women, child, sick or Roma prisoners, those sentenced to aggravated imprisonment for life, workers and students in prison; carrying special works to protect the rights of these groups of prisoners and to meet their needs;
  • Working with local and international volunteers to enhance the experience of persons who carry out, or will carry out, academic or professional works on/within the penal system;
  • Creating awareness and sensitivity on prisons through efficient use of written, visual and social media;
  • Translating and printing the documents and sources on international standards for prisons, in order to provide the persons, organisations and institutions working on prisons with better resources;
  • With due consideration of the conditions and experiences of the offended, contributing to the implementation of alternative sanctions to imprisonment which serve to restorative justice and support social integration; sustaining efforts to prevent offences, thus helping to decrease the use of imprisonment.

Our Case Management Principles

  • All our work is aimed at protecting the human rights and dignity of imprisoned persons.
  • We work to oversee the human rights not only of the prisoners but also of prison staff.
  • We prioritize the “no harm” principle and the confidentiality of the prisoners we do our works for. Before we undertake any tasks on their behalf, we inform them about the limitations of their individual situation and of all the negative or positive outcomes possible. The prisoner’s consent is obtained in order to share their information in cases where their identity is not kept anonymous, i.e. when it is shared with the news outlets, used to create public opinion, included in publications and/or to make applications on their behalf to official bodies related to human rights. In cases where communication with the prisoner cannot be established, their legal guardian, lawyer or permitted visitors are contacted. When sharing a prisoner’s information anonymously, we remove all information that might be indicative of their identity, and when this is not possible, we do not share the information without the approval to do so.
  • The information obtained from prisoners is based on their own declarations. CISST does not conduct independent assesments of prisoners’ needs. CISST acts upon the statement of the prisoner when making applications related to rights violations or requests for transfers on their behalf. We provide the prisoner with supporting information, share our observations and experience regarding the specific process, explain what we can do about the situation and the decision is left to the prisoner.
  • CISST adopts the principle of objectivity in reviewing and reporting cases. Both for cases reported to us and those we have learned through other sources, we aim to collect information from various sources. For the complaints about general conditions of imprisonment, we try to confirm the complaints through what we learn from the letters of other prisoners, if at all possible. For the cases of rights violations against specific individuals, we use the process of application to official bodies related to human rights in order to monitor the case. When necessary, we try to follow the case through lawyer visits. If more urgent and prompt action is necessary, all concerned local actors are contacted. In cases where we are concerned that severe violations of rights might take place, we bring the claims to public attention upon obtaining the consent of the prisoner.
  • In cases where there are anticipated risks of retaliation, CISST periodically monitors the prisoner’s status during and after the conclusion of the case. If the expert receiving the application believes there is a risk of retaliation, either through their own evaluation or through the statements of the prisoner, they stay in contact with the prisoner by specifying the duration and periods between contact. This situation of contact and monitoring can be terminated at the request of the prisoner or the expert when it is no longer necessary. During this period, the “no harm” and confidentiality principles are of primariy importance and communication is made accordingly.
  • CISST adopts a perspective that cares both for the prisoner’s needs and the expert’s psychological well-being during their contact. Importantly, the relation between the prisoner and the expert should not take the form of a personal and emotional attachment. In case either of the parties are harmed during this contact, firstly the expert who carries out the correspondence with the prisoner is replaced and the situation is explained to the prisoner. The correspondence with the prisoner on behalf of CISST is continued. In case the problem persists, the prisoner may be referred to other institutions.
  • In all applications, CISST operates on the presumption of innocence of all parties. If the information is not based on a final court order, we explicity state that the information is a claim.