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Friday, 07 August 2020

Turkey to release prisoners to ease crowding

AP , Tuesday 14 Apr 2020
Turkish Parliment
FILE PHOTO: Turkish lawmakers vote a bill that allows troop deployment to Libya, at the Parliament in Ankara, Turkey, January 2, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)
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Turkey's parliament has approved legislation that will free some 90,000 prisoners to ease overcrowding in prisons amid the coronavirus pandemic.

However, that doesn't include journalists and activists, who will remain behind bars.

The legislation, approved early on Tuesday, reduces some sentences and places 45,000 convicts who are currently serving terms in open prisons, under temporary house arrest.

Prisoners convicted of drug-related charges, sexual abuse, murder, domestic abuse and terrorism were however, kept out of the scope of the measure designed to reduce the country's more than 280,000-strong prison population. Dozens of journalists, activists opposition politicians and others will remain incarcerated because many of them have been imprisoned on terror-related charges.

Opposition parties and human rights groups have criticized the measure that was passed with the votes of the ruling party and its nationalist allies.

``Those convicted in unfair trials under Turkey's overly broad anti-terrorism laws are ... now condemned to face the prospect of infection from this deadly disease,'' said Amnesty International's Turkey Campaigner, Milena Buyum.

As well as reducing some prison terms, the legislation releases women with young children, the sick and prisoners above the age of 65.

The prison releases were expected to begin this week.

On Monday, the justice minister announced that 17 prisoners in open prisons were infected and three of them died.

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