Conditions of Imprisoned and Detained Students in Covid-19 Pandemic

Turkey has released more prisoners in the past six months than any other  country in Europe. Although prisoners who were not given amnesties during Covid-19 are at risk of being infected, many still remain detained without trial. In addition to violating individuals’ right to health, this situation also caused many other controversies (1). 

As a part of The Student In Prison Network, we would like to draw attention to the situation of students detained for exercising their rights of expression, protest and assembly. Unfortunately, the number of these students and conditions of their imprisonment is unknown.  We do not know which health and education rights were violated in prisons -especially during the Covid-19 pandemic- whether the number of imprisoned students remains 58,579 (2) in line with  the data from 2019. We cannot get enough information from prisons. We consider it important to highlight this uncertainty, and we are stating our demand for transparency.

Civil Society in the Penal System Association (CİSST), a rights based civil society organisation focusing on issues in Turkish prisons, prepared a report in line with the complaints  during June 1st-12th (3) According to the report;

  • Prisons are overcrowded
  • Prison  areas are not being  disinfected regularly
  • The prison wards are not adequately ventilated.

Accordingly the hygienic conditions in the prison indicate that there is a serious violation of the right to health during the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, we think while education and exams are carried out online, the  problems of imprisoned students, who were already experiencing serious difficulties in accessing the right to education, have increased. Imprisoned students experience various systemic problems: difficulties in paying tuition fees, difficulties in accessing educational materials and resources, lack of regular and fair transportation to universities, and the remote locations of prisons. In addition, they have serious problems in taking exams due to not being prepared with the  appropriate infrastructure.

As The Student In Prison Network, we state that the information regarding the number of imprisoned and convicted students and the situation of them is not shared with the public transparently and that the conditions of prisons differ from each other. Therefore it is very difficult for civic society components working on the issue to detect violations and develop solutions. Yet despite these difficulties, we will continue to work for the rights of students in prison. Considering the often unobservable nature of the violations of the right to health and education created by all these prison conditions, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, we ask the Ministry of Justice:

1) What is the number of students detained in prisons? Why were they not released during the Covid-19 pandemic?

2) During the Covid-19 pandemic, what solutions are created for the problems of students in prisons?

3) Have students in prisons had problems accessing online exams?

4) What precautions have been taken for students experiencing problems? Have other alternatives been created for students who could not take the exams due to the lack of infrastructure in prisons?

5) Has the interruption of correspondence in prisons created difficulties for students in accessing course notes and exams? Has any extension been given for assignment/exam submissions, if necessary, for students who have access to exams in this way?



(2) The number stated in the speech of Namık Kemal Varol at the Human Rights Inquiry Committee of the Parliament on October 31st, 2019.


The Student In Prison Network

It is a network of activists, NGOs and academics aiming at creating solidarity with imprisoned students as well as monitoring and preventing rights violations committed against imprisoned students.