Dr. Ayse Uğurlu, a member of the human rights commission of the Ankara Medical Association (ATO), announced that there are currently 1,941 children behind bars in Turkey for various reasons, and warned about the risk of these children getting hurt, or causing some sort of damage in their surroundings.
Speaking at a press conference on 6 January, organised by the human rights commission of ATO to raise awareness for the children living behind bars, Dr. Ugurlu emphasised that the prisons are incompatible with the development of children.
She indicated that the group aged 0-6 were raised in prison alongside their incarcerated mothers without access to appropriate food, toys or diapers, and said that these children did not have the opportunity to have friends from their same age group. She added that they were forced to live an adult life due to the way they were treated by prison administrations.
“Playing games is the most important activity that contributes to child mental development till the age of six,” she said. “And children ought to be able to play games with other children of the same age. It’s not hard to predict how small children are likely to be affected psychologically and physiologically in an environment where even the adults suffer traumas.”
She also noted that the children in that group also had restricted access to medical services and were prone to illnesses due to malnutrition and rough living conditions they had to endure alongside the prisoners.
Stating that prisons constituted a source of threat for the children, Dr. Uğurlu said that the laws regulating practices concerning penal execution of sentences should be revised, and added:
“The prison conditions is a socio-political issue. We’re working together with human rights organisations on this issue, but it’s not something that can be solved by such organisations alone. The political administration, the justice ministry and the prison administrations should assume their responsibilities.”