Öcalan lawyers call on the CPT to eliminate the conditions of torture on Imrali

Following the CPT's visit to Imrali prison island, the Asrin Law Office representing Abdullah Öcalan said: "We demand that the CPT take coercive measures as soon as possible to eliminate the conditions of torture."

The lawyers of the Asrin Law Office, which represents the prisoners on Imrali, including Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, issued a statement on the visit to Turkey of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) between 20 and 29 September. The CPT visited, among other places, the prison island of Imrali, where Abdullah Öcalan, Ömer Hayri Konar, Veysi Aktaş and Hamili Yıldırım are held in total isolation. The CPT delegation held talks with Deputy Minister of Justice Akın Gürlek and Director General of Prisons and Detention Centres Enis Yavuz Yıldırım, as well as other senior officials from the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on the implementation of the CPT's long-standing recommendations on Imralı Prison.

"CPT demands after last visit were not met"

The Asrın Law Office welcomed the CPT visit as belated but important and recalled the last CPT report: "The CPT published the report on its last visit in May 2019, only 15 months after. It stated that serious steps should be taken, especially with regard to the link with the outside world. However, after the CPT’s visit, the isolation policy towards our clients on Imralı Island continued and the isolation was further exacerbated, although an improvement should have been made in line with the recommendations in the visit reports." Lawyers pointed to the total isolation that has been going on for 18 months.

"Take coercive measures against Turkey"

Since then, there has been no sign of life from Imralı, said the statement by lawyers, which continued, "The lifting of the ban on lawyer and family visits and the preservation of our right to meet our clients without restrictions and limitations remains our most important demand. As the gravity of the situation is obvious, we demand that the CPT make a public statement as soon as possible and take coercive measures and procedures to eliminate the conditions of torture. As lawyers, we expect the public, the judiciary and human rights organisations to remain committed to ensuring that Mr Öcalan and the other prisoners in Imralı are given the opportunity to receive visitors."

The CPT delegation does not release information on Öcalan

Therese Rytter, head of the CPT delegation that visited Imralı and Vice-President of the CPT, previously stated that she could not give any information about Abdullah Öcalan for the time being, adding that the CPT report would be sent to Turkey in six months. Therese Rytter told Mezopotamya news agency that they will confirm the report and send it to Turkey in March 2023. Rytter said, "Turkey will then have six months to respond and then the CPT will decide whether to publish its report. We have unhindered access to all persons deprived of their liberty."

Turkey decides whether to publish report

While the last CPT report took 15 months to be published, Rytter justified this fact by saying: "It is the member state, not the CPT, that decides whether a CPT report (and the state response) is published. So far, most states have chosen to publish the CPT's report together with their response. If a state does not cooperate or refuses to improve the situation in the light of the CPT's recommendations, the Committee may decide to issue a public statement."