According to the 2020 SPACE II annual survey carried out for the Council of Europe by the University of Lausanne, the percentages of persons on conditional release as probationers on 31st January 2020 vary widely across Europe, from 0.01% in Turkey to 44% in Greece.
The highest percentages are found in Western and Nordic European countries whilst Turkey is at the bottom of the list with the lowest.
According to the report the total number of persons under the supervision of probation agencies in Turkey is over 500,000. The report says that 984 out of every 100,000 people in Turkey are in prison or under probation as of 31 January 2020. This is more than three times the European average.
Turkey is at the top of the list of the countries which have jurisdictions with a high probation rate (626.7 per 100,000 inhabitants) and a high prison population rate (357.2 per 100,000).
Lithuania and Georgia follow Turkey in the numbers they keep on probation and in prison. Switzerland, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Slovenia, Croatia, Monaco and Cyprus are listed in the first category, meaning that they appear to use prison and probation the least.
On the other hand, Turkey, Lithuania and Georgia, the countries in the eighth and last category, “are in exactly the opposite situation,” the report revealed.
“These countries appear to be using community sanctions not as alternatives to imprisonment, but rather as supplementary sanctions. The reason is that their probation population rate is remarkably high, but their prison population rate remains above the European median value,” reads the report.
According to the 2020 data of Turkey’s Human Rights Association (IHD), there are 1605 sick prisoners, 604 of whom are seriously ill, in prisons in Turkey. From the beginning of 2017 to the end of 2019, 44 sick prisoners died in Turkey’s prisons.
Human rights defenders have criticised prison conditions in Turkey for many years, and conditions have worsened further since the Covid-19 outbreak. Seventeen people have died in the prisons due to coronavirus during the pandemic period.
The IHD has repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that many sick or disabled individuals remain imprisoned during the pandemic despite the risk from the coronavirus.
Family members and lawyers of sick prisoners in Turkey have long been campaigning for sick prisoners to be at least conditionally released in order to be able to get adequate medical treatment, but Turkey’s judicial authorities refuse to consider such measures even for the most critically ill.