Turkey, Politics

Turkish parliament passes penal reform law

Law enables release of thousands of prisoners to reduce overcrowding, protect them against coronavirus

Muhammet Emin Avundukluoğlu   | 14.04.2020
Turkish parliament passes penal reform law

ANKARA

Turkey's parliament ratified a penal reform bill early Tuesday aimed at reducing the sentences of thousands of prisoners, paving the way for their release in a bid to ease overcrowding and protect them from the coronavirus. 

The bill was supported by 279 lawmakers in the 600-seat chamber while 51 voted against it.

The ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party co-prepared the reform with the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Sex crimes that offend the public's conscience as well as drug crimes, first degree murder, crimes of violence against women and terrorist crimes were excluded from the reform.

The reform will enable home confinement for some inmates over 65, women who have children aged six and under and sick prisoners who cannot take care of themselves.

But it will toughen sentences on those who organize criminal groups for the purpose of monetary profit.

The reform will also bring measures for inmates with communicable diseases.

The measures will roughly double the number of beneficiaries of alternative penal arrangements from about 45,000 to 90,000 in home confinement due to such illnesses.

Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul on Monday confirmed 17 cases of the novel coronavirus in five open prisons, while three inmates have died from the virus.

On Monday, the death toll in the country from the coronavirus rose to 1,296. The country has 61,049 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

Since appearing in Wuhan, China last December, the novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has spread to at least 185 countries and regions.

Data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University shows worldwide infections have surpassed 1.9 million, with the death toll above 118,000 while more than 446,000 have recovered.

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