The first Turkish prisoner has allegedly tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
Ömer Turanlı, a Turkish lawyer, tweeted on Tuesday that a 70-year-old man at Ankara’s Sincan prison tested positive and “taken into intensive care.”
The claim has neither been confirmed nor denied by the Turkish authorities, at time of writing.
Turkey’s overcrowded, unhygienic prisons are a perfect breeding ground for the COVID-19 pandemic .
Turkey has a total of 384 prisons.
Based on figures provided by the Justice Ministry, 229,790 people are in prisons with a total capacity of 207,339. Only 141,802 out of the 229,790 have been convicted of a crime.
Another report last year stated that the total prison population had exceeded 224,000 while prison capacity is 202,000.
Turkish government is reportedly preparing a judicial reform package, which includes the release of thousands of prisoners to stem Covid-19. The reform package, however, isn’t expected to include political prisoners who are being held in pre-trial detention over so-called “terror” links. In other words, thousands of purge-victims are exempted
An online petition by pro-Kurdish HDP deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu is calling Turkish authorities to release thousands of purge-victims in order to protect their right to life, “either through the judicial reform package to be reviewed by the Parliament or through rulings to be directly delivered by the courts.”