Human Rights Watch (HRW) and several EP officialls have called on the Turkish government to release all political prisoners to stem COVID-19 spread.

Nacho Sánchez Amor, the European Parliament’s standing rapporteur on Turkey, and Sergey Lagodinsky and the chair of the EP Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, released a statement on Monday in which they called on the Turkish government to extend a proposed coronavirus amnesty bill to include hundreds of journalists, lawyers, judges, prosecutors, politicians, academics, rights defenders and artists who are deemed to be political prisoners.

“We welcome the Turkish government’s plan to substitute prison time with alternatives such as early parole or house arrest, which could apply to up to 100.000 inmates,” Amor and Lagodinsky said in a written statement.

“However, it is crucial to apply this in a non-discriminatory and objective way, based on health criteria and on the risks that released prisoners may pose to society,” they said.

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.

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.

TAKE ACTION: Sign petition by Amnesty Turkey to call on authorities to release jailed purge-victims

An online petition by Amnesty Turkey is calling Turkish authorities to release thousands of purge-victims in order to protect their right to life.

You can sign the petition here:

CCBE urges Turkish authorities to protect the health and safety of purge-victim lawyers

The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) called on the Turkish government to protect the health and safety of imprisoned lawyers in the face of the COVID-19 spread.

“The CCBE urges Turkish authorities to protect the health and safety of all detained #lawyers in #Turkey and to do everything in their power to restore their freedom,” the council tweeted.