Turkey to free drug dealers, sex offenders, but not political prisoners

Draft legislation drawn up by Turkey's ruling party would reduce jail time for a large number of prisoners, including drug dealers and sex offenders, while people jailed for terrorism crimes, including political prisoners, would not be eligible for early release.

The legal changes, in response to the coronavirus outbreak, would see the release of significant numbers of inmates, excluding those found guilty of terrorism and first-degree murder, Cumhuriyet newspaper said on Tuesday..

This means the new law excludes journalists, opposition politicians, human rights defenders and dismissed public officials jailed for links to what Turkey calls terrorist organisations.

Tens of thousands of people have been jailed pending trial and some 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others sacked or suspended from their jobs as part of a crackdown by the Turkish government following the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.

The bill would see the portion of sentences required to be spent in prison reduced from two-thirds to a half, and allow prisoners to serve one-fifth of their sentences on probation, the newspaper said.

Meanwhile, female convicts with children aged up to six, and prisoners aged 70 and over would be released on probation four years before their sentence ends.