700 children in Turkish jails


On 1 April 2006, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the following statement in relation to the incident: “I am addressing mothers and fathers. Those who let their children out and allow them to be used by the terror organisations will cry in vain tomorrow. Our security forces will do whatever is needed whether the subjects are women or children. No standards of democracy would condone such incidents of violence”.  After this incident that took place in Diyarbakir on 28 March 2006, according to official records 400 children, and according to unofficial records 700 children, have been detained and subjected to inhuman treatment. A report released by Kurdish Info analyse the situation of the children in prison today.
Many of these children have been arrested and sentenced to up to quarter of century in prison. In the meantime, there have been changes in the anti-terror law, local courts sent the cases of children to the Supreme Court for the purpose of appeal, which then sent them to the Supreme Criminal Court General Council, which enacted the law and, as a result, the implementations have been started to sentence each child who hurled stones and made a victory sign to 25 years.
Immediately after the incident that took place in Diyarbakir, changes have been proposed on the Anti-Terror Law, and finally on 29.06.2006, the law no 5532, “Law in Relation to Making changes in the Anti-Terror Law”, which has thus been rearranged and is a matter of controversy today. It has been enacted and published in the Official Gazette.
With these changes, it has been possible to regard the children aged 15-18 as adults to stand trial at high Criminal Courts, formerly State Security Courts, dealing with Criminal Procedure Law article 250 without remand or optional enforcements, while it also made it possible for the children aged 12-18 to be treated as organisation members and exempt from the rules that are applied to their peers, who stood trial for petty offences.
As far as the conditions of capture and detentions goes the report makes the following points:
Disproportionate use of force during the capture and detention,
Their rights are not explained to the children immediately and clearly, who are also not enable to benefit from their rights. (According to 90/4 it is compulsory to remind the person of their rights).
Many children are taken away from their homes early in the morning to the Anti-Terror Branch where they are beaten, threatened, and may or may not be subject to ID check.
Children are face to face with the risk of maltreatment as they are taken away without informing their relatives to the anti-terror branch without the knowledge of relatives.
And as far as the investigation goes, Kurdish Info has this to say:
Whilst the investigation in relation to juveniles has to be carried out by the Juvenile’s Prosecutor under the article 16 of CKK, they are immediately taken to the Anti-Terror Branch. (Children are taken to the Branch on the pretext of investigation, where they are kept standing up to 6 hours).
Reports are not prepared for the duration of detention of the children whose ages cannot be determined to be younger than 18 by the Anti-Terror Branch, and that they are sent to the Branch even after their ages have been clarified.
The children are kept at the Anti-Terror Branch for 3-7 hours and subjected to physical and psychological violence, intimidated and interrogated under undue influence only after which they are sent to Children’s Branch.
During the detentions, children are illegally forced to give a statement used to prepare interview records, which includes questions about the parents and relatives.
The reports prepared at the Anti-Terror Branch are placed in the court cases, and that children are interrogated through illegal methods such as intimidation used to write “interview reports”.
Evidence such as CD and photographs are not shown to the solicitors and the children are being interrogated without being informed of their existence during their time at the Anti-Terror Branch.
The secrecy in relation to the cases continues during the investigations. Solicitors are not given any documents or information, and are not allowed to see the CDs, which directly restricts the right to defence.
Interview records are used to prepare the police reports, which are used to prepare the indictment that turns into a verdict during the process of trial.
Children aged 15-18 are treated like adults by the judges and prosecutors, who apply psychological pressure. The prosecutors ask the children whether they have relatives in prisons.
Children are kept waiting to see the judges, and threatened while being taken to the prosecutor. Children show signs of acceptance as they are told that there are videos as a result of which solicitors find it difficult to convince the children, who cannot use their right to silence. Solicitors also face difficulties in reaching the documents on children. 
Most recently, indictments are being prepared to include committing crimes on behalf of illegal organisations. It has been observed that children are ordered to stand still in military style during the interrogations while they face undue influence and intimidation, and a child has changed his statement upon being prompted by the prosecutor.
As a result of the increase in the number of children, who are the victims of anti-terror law, the activities and efforts of many NGOs brought into agenda the preparation of an “amnesty bill”. However, the children we describe as the victims of anti-terror law really are the victims of anti-terror law as accepted by the public opinion as well. Forgiving the children or declaring an amnesty will cause them to be victimised for a second time in the future. As is known, the word “Amnesty” means forgiving a crime or mistake. Declaration of an “Amnesty” will mean the acceptance of the victims as “guilty”.
Moreover, some of the children have not been detained during demonstrations, but collected from the streets or their homes. Although there is no evidence in the cases of more than half of these children, they have received very heavy sentences as a result of accepting the soldier or police reports as evidence. An “Amnesty” to be declared for the children will not subsequently rule out the fact that the children are the victims of anti-terror laws.
On the other hand, it is believed that the children, who are sentenced to 8, 10, 15 or 25 years of imprisonment, are also subject to individual and regional discrimination of Turkish laws. While a child, who is not Kurdish and captured during a demonstration in the West is sentenced on the grounds of the contravention of the Meetings and Demonstrations Law No 2911, today these children, as well as this law, are also subject to sentences for acting in contravention of anti-terror law, although not being a member of an organisation, committing crimes in its name, as well as carrying out propaganda.

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