Turkey to Release 45,000 Prisoners to Combat Spread of COVID-19

17 Prisoners and 79 Prison Personnel Have also Tested Positive for Coronavirus

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The Turkish government is set to release thousands of prisoners to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the country’s overcrowded prisons. However, the mass release will exclude those jailed on “terrorism” charges in the crackdown following the 2016 coup.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party and nationalist MHP allies supported the bill. 279 legislators voted for the bill while 51 voted against. More than 45,000 prisoners are expected to be released from jail.

Those eligible will be released under judicial control until the end of May. A similar number would be released permanently under a separate part of the legislation aimed at reducing overcrowding in prisons.

The decision comes after 17 confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported among prisoners. Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul said 79 prison personnel had also tested positive, along with 80 judicial officers and staffers.