Filiz Kerestecioğlu, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Member of Parliament for Ankara submitted a parliamentary question to the Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gül about the problems of child and adult prisoners and their access to right to education.
The full text of the parliamentary question is as follows.
PRESIDENCY OF THE GRAND NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF TURKEY
I sincerely hope that my following questions are answered in writing by the Minister of Justice, Mr. Abdulhamit Gül, in accordance with Articles 98 of the Constitution and Articles 96 and 99 of the Rules of Procedure.
Member of Parliament for Ankara
As a result of the changes made in the Execution Law (1) in April 2020, although thousands of prisoners were released, hundreds of thousands of prisoners are still kept in prison, putting their rights to health and life at risk. Moreover, the restrictions taken under the COVID-19 pandemic make living in prisons difficult in many ways and seriously prevent children and adult prisoners from participating in social, cultural and academic activities.
Under the pandemic conditions, where education is carried out online, it is essential for the protection of the right to education and the right to equality that solutions are developed to reduce the heightened problems of imprisoned students who are already experiencing serious issues in accessing their right to education.
Appropriate equipment and facilities should be provided in prisons and necessary planning should be put in place immediately, in order for imprisoned students not to have problems in paying for open education fees in the new term due to economic deprivation, to have easy access to educational materials and information resources, to be able to take online exams and to deliver their assignments on time.
For example, under the cooperation protocol between the Ministry of Justice and the former Ministry of Family and Social Policies in 2014-2017; while the exam and registration expenses of poor detained and imprisoned persons were covered by the public budget, the protocol was not renewed in 2017 despite the insistent demands of the prisoners. To cover these expenses, it was recommended for the prisoners to apply individually to the Social Assistance and Solidarity Foundations (SYDV) which are affiliated with the district governorships. Although economic deprivation is the main criteria for determining which people are to be supported while the protocol is in effect, there are many discriminatory examples in the practices of the SYDV where prisoners cannot receive support due to their identities, their perspectives and political opinions. Moreover, with the pandemic measures, the access of prisoners to communication forms such as postal mail and petitions has become difficult. As a result, the educational support provided by the SYDV for many prisoners has become less accessible. In addition, the data showing the ratio of prisoners’ exercising their right to education are not shared with the public in a transparent manner, and the fact that prison management is completely closed to outside monitoring normalizes violations of rights and arbitrary practices.
In this context:
1. What is the number of prisoners enrolled in any education program in the spring term of 2019-2020? How many of them are detained and how many are imprisoned?
2. What is the distribution of prisoners enrolled in an education program in the spring term of 2019-2020, according to the education programs (2) they are enrolled in?
3. What was the number of university and high school students enrolled in formal (3) education at the time of their arrest between the years 2015-2020? How many of these people were able to continue formal education, how many had to leave formal education?
4. What measures have been taken in the new academic year to ensure that child prisoners can continue their education?
5. What solutions have been developed for students in prisons in order that they can follow online classes? Are different practices developed for those staying in children’s education centers, closed children’s prisons, adult closed and adult open prisons?
6. Are there computers allocated to students in prisons for educational activities? If so, what are the procedures followed to make these computers available for use in children’s education centers, closed children’s prisons, adult closed and adult open prisons?
8. Is internet access provided to prisoners for their educational activities?
9. What opportunities have been provided to imprisoned students in the last academic year for course follow-up, for accessing educational materials and for taking online exams? What are the problems experienced? What measures will be taken to avoid similar problems in the new term?
10. Has the interruption of correspondence due to the pandemic caused problems in accessing course notes and submitting exams and assignments? What precautions will be taken so that students who take the exams in this way do not have problems?
11. What measures will be taken to ensure that children aged 0-6 who are in prison with their mothers can continue preschool education?
12. Why has “The Cooperation Protocol between the Ministry of Family and Social Policies and the Ministry of Justice within the Scope of Covering the Exam and Registration Expenses of Poor Prisoners and Convicts” not been renewed?
(1) “According to the amnesty law adopted by the General Board of the Turkish Grand National Assembly and published in the Official Gazette on April 15th, 2020, the sentence will be reduced to half, except for terrorism, murder, drugs, violence against women and sexual crimes. While “those convicted of crimes within the scope of the National Intelligence Law” were excluded from the scope, the sentences of those who established and managed organizations and those who committed usury and those who committed deliberate injury were increased.”
With the change in the law, prisoners in open prisons were given 2 months of Corona leave to be observed in their social lives through probation.
(2): Adult 1st stage literacy, adult 2nd stage education achievement course, AİO (open secondary school), AÖL (open high school), AÖF (Open education faculty), formal secondary school, high school, university and graduate programs.
(3) Formal education: Education in school