Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jail the Children

The Turkish legal system has come up with a powerful method to teach Kurdish children not to join protests -- jail them. 

From a report issued by International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX), a Canada-based watchdog group:
A 15-year-old boy will spend more than three years in prison for taking part in a protest organised by the Kurdish militant group the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Turkish court ruled last month. He's just one of the dozens of children who has been tried or sentenced under anti-terrorism laws, report IFEX members in Turkey the Initiative for Freedom of Expression (Antenna-TR) and IPS Communication Foundation (BIANET).

The teen was tried and convicted for committing a crime on behalf of an illegal organisation - PKK - for allegedly attending one of the group's street protests in Adana and throwing stones at police officers. He initially faced 7.5 years in jail, but the sentence was reduced because of his age and good conduct in court. The child was taken into custody on 1 November 2008, and has been in Pozantı prison since.

A 2006 Anti-Terrorism Law amendment allows Turkish courts to charge teenagers aged 15 to 18 years old as adults. Human rights activists have pointed out that the amendment was made after protests took place in Kurdish-majority Diyarbakır in the southeast of Turkey….

….Similarly, 10 children who participated in protests in Diyarbakır during the visit of Prime Minister Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan last October are currently on trial in Diyarbakır - some of them as young as 13. They stand accused of membership of an illegal organisation, namely PKK, and some of them are charged with "committing crimes in the name of a terrorist organisation". The prosecution has sought jail time of more than 20 years for some of the accused.
(You can read the full report here.)

Bianet, meanwhile, has a bit more on the issue and about the launch of a human rights campaign asking the Turkish government to change the law that allows for minors to be tried in criminal court.

No comments: