20. 7. 2016

Reinstating the death penalty in Turkey after the attempted coup?


After the unsuccessful coup attempt in Turkey, both high-level officials and the pro-government public suggest the reinstatement of the death penalty. Unfortunately the question tends to re-surface from time to time in other states as well, but rarely with such political weight. It is important to evaluate the possibility of this step.

The dubious actions by the Turkish government after the failed coup (massive arrests, a systematic assault on the judicial system by suspending thousands of judges and prosecutors) have drawn strong criticism from many actors, including leaders of the Council of Europe and the United Nations. The statement by Marina Kaljurand, acting as Chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has reminded the Turkish government “to abide by the constitutional order”, and to respect “democratic institutions and the rule of law” and “right to life, which has to be protected in all circumstances, and the right to a fair trial”. One day later, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has called on the Turkish government “to respond to the attempted coup by reinforcing the protection of human rights and by strengthening democratic institutions and checks and balances”, while he put a special emphasis to protection of independence of the judiciary being the “key to the fair administration of justice”. Similar concerns have been raised earlier by the president of the Venice Commission as well.