Minister dismisses complaints over jailed deputies

November 18, 2011, Friday/ 17:39:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin has dismissed complaints from opposition deputies over a delay in the release of jailed deputies and long periods of arrest in Turkey, saying Parliament, not the Justice Ministry, should be expected to take measures to resolve the issue.

Responding to complaints made by deputies from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) at the parliamentary Planning and Budget Commission meeting for the Justice Ministry’s 2012 budget late on Thursday, Ergin said: “I wish all the jailed deputies were with us here in the commission. The Justice Ministry and the other ministries do not like to see deputies put in prison, but what is the Justice Ministry? Is it a court? Is it an appellate body or is it a kingdom? The Justice Ministry doesn’t have any right to make laws or release any jailed person, so this should be discussed in Parliament; the Justice Ministry doesn’t represent the Parliament.”

Ergin went on to say that only when Parliament decides to change Laws No. 83 and 14 can the deputies be released, something which he said the Justice Ministry has nothing to do with. Giving details about the number of inmates and detainees in Turkish prisons, Ergin said there have been some claims suggesting that the number of arrestees is higher that the number of convicts in jail in Turkey, but this is no longer the case. “Previously, the number of arrestees was higher than the number of convicted people in Turkey, but since 2010 the number of arrestees has begun to decrease,” Ergin added. He asserted that arrestees account for 42.4 percent of the country’s total prison population and individuals who have been convicted of a crime 57.7 percent He also said the total number of arrestees is 53,913 while the number for convicts is 73,161.

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