Journalist Dal subjected to strip search

Journalist Esra Solin Dal was recently arrested in Istanbul on “terrorist charges,” and was subjected to a strip search during her transfer to prison.

Journalist Esra Solin Dal, who was recently arrested in Turkey on terrorism charges, was subjected to a strip search in prison.

Mezopotamya (MA) news agency, for which Dal works, said that the incident occurred on Saturday after the journalist was transferred to Bakırköy women's prison on the European side of Istanbul. The MA editorial team described the process as “cruel and inhumane”. Dal's defense announced a lawsuit against the prison authorities.

The “usual accusation”

Esra Solin Dal was remanded in custody in Istanbul on Friday night along with her colleagues Mehmet Aslan and Erdoğan Alyumat. The Turkish judiciary accuses the three media workers of engaging in “terrorism” under the guise of journalism. They are suspected of being members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - a standard accusation systematically used by Turkish repressive authorities for people who are in any way connected to the Kurdish opposition, civil society and the free media. Six other members of the press who were taken into custody as part of the same investigation were released on reporting conditions.

DFG: We condemn the torture of Esra Solin Dal

The journalists' association Dicle-Firat (DFG) also denounced the strip search that Dal had to endure in prison. “Strip searches are one of the most serious forms of torture against human dignity,” the Amed-based organization said in a statement, strongly condemning the attack on the journalist. However, the free media cannot be discouraged or subjugated by attacks like these. Our resistance to repression remains steadfast, as does our commitment to exposing torture.”

ECHR condemned Turkey for humiliating strip searches

Even if it is denied by the Turkish government, the so-called strip searches in police custody and in prison have been re-established as a popular torture method in Turkey in the last decade. Often involving the use of force, strip searches take place much more often than is known and affect both prisoners and their relatives, especially women. The Kurdish women's movement speaks of “patriarchal dominance” over women in connection with strip searches, a method very much used by British forces in the North of Ireland.

According to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), strip searches may be necessary in certain cases, for example to ensure security in a prison or to prevent unrest. However, they will have to be carried out appropriately. Behaviour aimed at humiliating prisoners or inducing feelings of inferiority demonstrated a lack of respect for their human dignity and constituted degrading treatment.

The ECHR has already condemned such a case, which occurred in 2016, as a violation of rights in a judgment against Turkey. However, this did not stop the regime in Ankara from continuing the practice of strip searches. Civil law organizations in Turkey, including several bar associations from the Kurdish provinces, have been criticizing strip searches as a systematic method of torture for years.