CPT: Restrictions in Imrali are not acceptable

The CPT said that “the underlying concept of the detention regime of persons sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment is fundamentally flawed”, urging a “complete overhaul” of the detention regime for such prisoners.

Restrictions imposed on Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Ocalan and three of other prisoners in Imrali island prison are not acceptable, said the CPT (Committee for the Prevention of Torture) in a report published on Wednesday.

The CPT urged Ocalan be granted more outside contact and less solitary confinement.

According to the Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee’s report on a 2019 visit to Turkey, which included rare access to Imrali, he is one of just four prisoners on the island.

The Committee for the Prevention of Torture said the regime the prisoners in Imrali were under had not improved “at all” since the last such visit in 2016.

It said the four prisoners were still only allowed to meet as a group for six hours per week, and in pairs for another three hours per week, while association during daily outdoor exercise remained prohibited.

“As a result, all prisoners were being held in solitary confinement for most of the time,” it said, noting this amounted to 159 hours out of 168 hours per week, including 24 hours per day at weekends.

“In the committee’s view, such a state of affairs is not acceptable.”

The CPT lamented an almost total absence of family visits in recent years to Ocalan and the turning down of requests for visits from his lawyers since 2019.

“A balance must be struck between such security considerations and the basic human rights of the prisoners concerned,” it said, calling for a “sustainable system” of regular visits by family members and lawyers at Imrali.

The CPT said that “the underlying concept of the detention regime of persons sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment is fundamentally flawed”, urging a “complete overhaul” of the detention regime for such prisoners.