TURKEY - Abolitionist
Government: republican parliamentary democracy
State of civil and political rights: Partly free
Constitution: 7 November 1982, amended a number of times, most recently in 2007( after a referendum)
Legal System: refers to various European systems
Legislative System: unicameral Grand National Assembly of Turkey (Turkiye Buyuk Millet Meclisi)
Judicial System: Constitutional Court; High Court of Appeals (Yargitay); Council of State (Danistay); Court of Accounts (Sayistay); Military High Court of Appeals; Military High Administrative Court
Religion: Muslim 99.8%
Method of execution: hanging
Prisoners on death row: 120
International Treaties on the Death Penalty and Human Rights:
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- 1st Optional Protocol to the Covenant
- Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (aiming to the abolition of the death penalty)
- Convention on the Rights of the Child
- Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
- European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
- 6th Protocol to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (concerning the abolition of the death penalty)
- European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
- Protocol No. 13 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, concerning the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances
The death penalty has been fully abolished by a package of constitutional and legislative amendments. Constitutional amendments of May 7, 2004 removed all reference to the death penalty from the Constitution. In addition, legislative amendments of July 21, 2004 abolished the death penalty in all circumstances.
On August 3, 2002 the Turkish Parliament had approved a 14-point package of democratic reforms that included the abolition of capital punishment in peacetime. The package had been ratified by the President and entered into force on August 9, 2002.
The death sentences of 180 people convicted on charges of being members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party and Hezbollah terrorist organizations by the Diyarbakir State Security Courts (DGMs), were commuted to life imprisonment on November 23, 2002.
The abolition of the death penalty in peacetime in August 2002 followed a series of amendments to the constitution voted in October 2001. Amendments to article 38 had stipulated that ''the death penalty cannot be imposed except in times of war, imminent threat of war and for terrorist crimes''. The 2002 abolition bill replaced the death sentence for terrorist crimes with life imprisonment.
On November 12, 2003, Turkey ratified Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), concerning the abolition of the death penalty in peacetime. In addition, Turkey signed Protocol No. 13 to the ECHR on January 9, 2004 and the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR on April 6, 2004.
On October 6, 2005, Turkey’s Parliament passed the Protocol No. 13 to the ECHR, concerning the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances.
The last execution in Turkey took place in October 1984 and provoked an international outcry. Hidir Aslan, aged 28, was executed after being convicted of belonging to an illegal organization. He had not been convicted of any killings.
A de facto moratorium on executions has been in place since 1984.
The retention of the death penalty in Turkey was widely attributed to the political pressure for the execution of Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party. Ocalan was sentenced to death on June 29, 1999 for his role in 16 years of guerrilla warfare that cost 30,000 lives in the Turkish southeast.
In January 2000, Turkey suspended the death sentence on the Kurdish rebel leader at the request of the European Court of Human Rights, pending its review of the case. However in October 2002, before a ruling was issued, Turkey’s state security court commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment, in line with Turkey's move to abolish the death sentence in August to meet European Union human rights criteria. On March 12, 2003, the Court ruled that Ocalan did not receive a fair trial.
On March 2, 2006 Turkey ratified the Second Optional Protocol on International Pact on Civil and Political Rights (aiming at the abolition of the death penalty).
On December 19, 2016, Turkey once again voted in favour of the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly, but did not co-sponsored.