Istanbul – As many as 90,000 inmates in Turkey could soon be released or allowed to serve their sentences at home in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus in prisons, according to a legislative proposal by the governing AKP.
Discussions on the release could start next week, AKP group deputy chairman Cahit Ozkan said in Ankara.
The proposal excludes those who have committed terrorism, sex or drugs offences, as well as those convicted of murder or violence against women.
The bill covers inmates over the age of 65, female inmates with children aged 6 and younger as well as people who are critically ill, Ozkan said.
Roughly 45,000 inmates would be released and another 45,000 in open-air prisons would be allowed to serve sentences at home, bringing the total number to 90,000, Ozkan said.
The bill is backed by AKP’s far-right ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which together hold a majority in parliament.
Local and international rights groups have been urging Ankara to release inmates, among them journalists and politicians, to curb the virus’ spread. They say many political prisoners have been jailed on terrorist charges.
Turkey on Tuesday announced 46 more coronavirus deaths bringing the total to 214. There are 13,531 confirmed cases.