Human RightsMiddle EastTurkey

Erdogan Govt. begins releasing 90,000 inmates over coronavirus amid social dismay

Turkey began releasing tens of thousands of prisoners on Wednesday to ease overcrowding in jails and protect detainees from the coronavirus, but excluded those jailed on terrorism charges.

With the support of President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party and nationalist MHP allies, the parliament passed a bill that opened the way for the temporary release of around 45,000 prisoners to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Those eligible will be released under judicial control until the end of May and the Justice Ministry will be able to extend the period three times by a maximum of two months each time, according to the law.

A similar number would be released permanently under a separate part of the legislation aimed at reducing prison overcrowding.

Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul said on Monday there were 17 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among prisoners, including three deaths, and 79 prison personnel had also tested positive.

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