New Legislation in Turkey: Prison Uniforms


New Legislation in Turkey: Prison Uniforms

The first law stipulated for obligatory prison uniform was in the 80s, during the military coup. Many prisoners have rejected to wear obligatory uniforms and as a result the law was abolished. Because of severe rights violations, prisoners were on the death fast which effected the decision to retreat from the imposition. Nevertheless, use of force for uniforms continued several months and legislation was in force for five years (1983-1988)

Today, we are facing a similar regulation. On 24th of December 2017, a statuary decree was enacted stipulating uniform obligation for prisoners who are being trialled or have been convicted according to Anti-Terror Law. The obligation is limited to trials and transportation to the courthouse.

Law foresees different colours for prisoners sentenced or trialled with crimes against constitution & government (referred as colour of dried almond) and other political prisoners (grey). Also, it sets forth different style for women and men.

Further, law foresees disciplinary punishments which may end up with losing the right to be conditionally released. According to Anti-Terror Law, infliction of three solitary confinement punishment results with the disentitlement of the right to be conditionally released for political prisoners.

The imposition will start on 24th of January.

After the statuary decree, some political prisoners and prisoner groups have declared that they will not accept this imposition since they consider uniforms dehumanizing and against human rights.

These development has increased concerns about prisoners' rights and “Coordination Against Prison Uniform” (Tek Tip Elbise Karşıtı Koordinasyon) was established to monitor & advocate possible rights violations, regarding uniform obligation. 

Human Rights Defenders are objecting this regulation because:

·      Uniforms will stigmatize prisoners both inside the court house among society and also through the trial.

·      It discriminates political and non-political prisoners and also prisoners with different sentences by foreseeing different colours.

·      Uniforms have been styled based on binary gender regime and disregarded transgender prisoners.

·      Inclusion of prisoners who are on trial & not convicted is against the presumption of innocence. 

·      Disciplinary punishments may result with severe limitation on contact with outside world, isolation and disentitlement of right to be conditionally released.

·      These developments may create an obstacle for prisoners' attendance to their trials, and result with the violation of right to have a fair trial.

Further, the concern of expansion of the imposition and its becoming a general rule for all prisoners is commonly discussed among human rights defenders in Turkey.