The Complaints About the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak Received from Prisons / 15-28 April

In this report, we are presenting the complaints received from the hotline of Civil Society in the Penal System Association between the dates of 15-28 April 2020, without giving any information about prisons and prisoners. During this period, we received complaints from 68 different penal institutions. 31 of these institutions are closed prisons, 37 of them are open prisons. These reports include up to date complaints from the prisons for the specified time range. By comparing the reports, you could follow up on which complaints have decreased in time and which new applications have been added. With this report, we will be covering current health problems, complaints, and demands of ill prisoners in the risk groups. You can read the situation of ill prisoners who agreed to share their stories under the title of the cases below.


The Capacity Problem in Prisons

Overcrowding in prisons is a problem that has been going on for a long time, and prisoners face many issues due to this reason. In addition to the problems listed below, we could say that many applications for violations that we received are mostly caused by overcrowding.

The prisoners reported that their wards were cramped, that their beds were too close to each other, and that they had to sleep at this intimacy, that they could not establish enough physical distance, that too many prisoners had to come together in the common areas, such as dining halls. In some prisons, closure of prison yards at certain times due to the cold weather has limited the movement of the prisoners that causes them to spend time in the same area close to each other.


The General Condition of Prisons and Hygiene Measures  

It has been reported that,

  • Only a few prisons have been disinfected by fumigation, some have not been disinfected at all,
  • At some prisons, fumigation has been done only at the outdoors, common areas have not been fumigated,
  • Still, many prisons had not been cleaning regularly, prisoners have been cleaning the common areas on their own,
  • Although some wards have not been disinfected, ward representatives are forced to sign a paper indicating that the wards have been cleaned,
  • Only in few prisons, the disinfection materials are provided in the hallways,
  • Although in some prisons, the prison officers wear protective masks, in others, either only a few officers wear masks or none of them wears,
  • Prison officers do not come close to prisoners unless for counting and at some prisons, prisoners are counted standing next to each other,
  • At in few prisons, the counting has been done only one time a day as a precaution,
  • Prison officers have been leaving prisoners’ food on their doorstep to avoid physical contact,
  • Due to the low number of windows, ventilation in the buildings is insufficient,
  • There has been no regular cleaning in quite a few prisons,
  • Disinfection products are sold at the prison commissaries for 10 to 45 liras,
  • In some open prisons, dining halls are not hygienic, adequately cleaned; and too many prisoners have to dine at the same time,
  • The products in the canteen are expensive and the product variety is low,
  • Some open prisons’ yards have been restricted by covering with the wire fence, due to administrations’ concern over escape.


Hygiene of Prisoners

It has been reported that,

  • While some prison administrations hand out soap and bleach to the wards, in some prisons soap is not providedfree of charge,
  • Prisoners are not provided with masks,
  • Some prisons charge money for masks,
  • Cleaning products are not provided without charge for prisoners who cannot afford it,
  • In some prisons, products containing cologne and alcohol are not provided,
  • In many prisons, there are not any sanitizing products in toilets,
  • Most prison administrations provide hand sanitizer only to prison officers and prisoners cannot access to hand sanitizers even they make requests,
  • Bathrooms are filthy,
  • Some prisons allow only an hour for showering to each ward, at all other times baths are locked,
  • The number of sinks is insufficient,
  • Water is cut off frequently, hot water is limited, and only at certain times, hot water is provided.



It has been reported that,

  • After people in open prisons taking leave, there have been problems with the distribution of meals prepared in prisons, and the meals in closed prisons are limited, of poor quality, and unhygienic,
  • The food supply is not enough for all prisoners; in some prisons, they ran out of food in a short time,
  • In some prisons, fresh vegetables are not allowed in due to concerns of they may carry the virus,
  • Supplementary food is not provided, also, it is not possible to access supplementary food even by paying,
  • Dietary food is not provided,
  • Vitamins are not provided,
  • Products such as lemon, garlic, onion, and vinegar are in limited supply.


Access to the Right to Health

It has been reported that,

  • No precautions have been taken for the risk groups, chronically ill, and elderly; masks and cleaning supplies are not provided, instead, prisoners have to take measurements on their own.
  • At some prisons, doctors do not attend the infirmary,
  • Prisoners have not been taken to the infirmary, instead, they have been getting medications according to the answers they give through the door without letting them in and even the prisoners are taken to infirmary they could not access to medication,
  • Chronically ill prisoners’ medical reports have not been renewed despite the state’s decision for allowing the renewal of medical reports without visiting the hospitals,
  • Some prisoners cannot get prescription for controlled substances, thus there is a risk that they will be harmful to themselves and their environment,
  • At some prisons, hospital transfers and treatments have halted,
  • Since all prisoners have to be quarantined for 14 days following a hospital visit, prisoners’ concerns about contracting the virus are exacerbating regarding transferring to a hospital,
  • The prisoners who cannot live on by themselves do not want to transfer to hospitals because they do not know how to take care of themselves,
  • Seriously ill prisoners who have to visit the hospitals have been quarantined after their visits and they have been having difficulties because they cannot take care of themselves alone.


The Cases 

  • Mehmet Salih Filiz – Ödemiş Type-T Closed Penal Execution Institution

Mehmet Salih Filiz was diagnosed with colon cancer at 23. While his treatment continues, he had to be transferred from Antalya Type-L Closed Penal Execution Institution to Ödemiş Type-T Closed Penal Execution Institution. He has been staying at Ödemiş Type-T Closed Penal Execution for a month. During his stay, his health has deteriorated. His lungs are in dire condition and he is vomiting blood. He has been feeding on special food. His medicines are not given to him on the grounds that they have to be imported from Europe. He was not provided with masks and cleaning supplies. In his ward, social distance is impossible. Even though the doctor who examined him asked for his transfer, his transfer was not made. To get transferred to a hospital Filiz was asked to sign a medical liability waiver in case he contracts the coronavirus and experiences a medical violation. His family and Filiz are anxious about the hospital transfer since he has to stay in a quarantine ward for 14 days after his visit and he is not capable of taking care of himself.


  • Sabri Kaya – Osmaniye Type-T Closed Penal Execution Institution

He is 55 and three of his heart valves are malfunctioning. He was hospitalized and treated in ICU before the coronavirus outbreak. After his treatment, he went back to the prison that he was staying in. After one week, his condition had deteriorated again, and he was once again hospitalized and treated in ICU. His family appealed for halting Kaya’s execution to the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, however, they have not received an affirmative answer for months.  Due to his health condition, his family is concerned that Kaya has to stay at the prison.


  • Deniz Yıldırım – Elazığ No. 1 Closed-High Security Penal Execution Institution

He has been in prison for four years. He has bowel-colon cancer. He had surgery on 31 January. Part of his small intestine is outside of his body. His chemotherapy started on 9 March and it continues. He has been held alone in the quarantine; however, he cannot meet his needs alone. His family states that isolating him is a problem, if he experiences any medical problem there is not anyone who can help him.


  • Abdulsamet Durak – Türkoğlu No. 1 Type-L Closed Penal Execution Institution

He had a heart attack. He had an angiogram at the hospital and two more stents were placed addition to two stents he already had. During his three days at the hospital he was treated in handcuffs, he was exposed to psychological violence. He did not have bypass surgery because he thought he would not get the proper care at the hospital. Currently, he is quarantined at the prison. His friend from his ward is staying with him and taking care of him.


New Precautions and Complaints

It has been reported that,

  • With the new measures taken, instead of prison visits, the prisoners can only use their right to phone call only one or two times, and for 20 minutes in total,
  • Ill-treatment and psychological pressure have increased in some prisons,
  • In some prisons, the prisoners have been prevented from sending letters and writing petitions, and letters and newspapers coming from outside are not given to them,
  • The prisoners planned to take their leave have to take the bus to go their home, they are having financial difficulties to purchase their tickets,
  • The intercity bus services charge expensive fees for the tickets,
  • In some prisons, the prisoners who could not take their coronavirus precaution leave due to financial difficulties were told that they have stayed in prisons,
  • In some prisons, the money in prisoners’ accounts is reserved for ticket fees without their consent, and they cannot access their money even though they need it,
  • Some governorships provide financial support to prisoners who cannot afford the ticket fee.