ANKARA WHISPERS > AKP to bring back the death penalty?

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Contrary to PM Erdoğan’s remarks, Minister Ergin says there is no work on bringing back the death penalty. AA photo

Contrary to PM Erdoğan’s remarks, Minister Ergin says there is no work on bringing back the death penalty. AA photo

Göksel Bozkurt Göksel Bozkurt goksel.bozkurt@hurriyet.com.tr

After Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s remarks favoring the death penalty, many are wondering if the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will make a regulation on that matter. Just after Erdoğan kicked off the debate, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin stated that there was no work on bringing back the death penalty. Despite that, Ergin’s statement will doubtlessly lose its validity if Erdoğan demands the opposite.

Some say Erdoğan uttered these words only to change the agenda, while some others say he expressed the sensitivity prevailing within society. The ruling party is surely proficient at changing the agenda, but this time it is evident that Erdoğan said these words believingly. Like most conservative leaders, Erdoğan is really on the side of the death penalty. He does not conceal that, and generally expresses it at times when terror activities are on the rise.

Taking the steps

So, could Erdoğan really take the necessary steps that would bring back the death penalty? Could the AKP make a new regulation regarding the death penalty in the Constitution? I asked these questions to a figure who is familiar with the corridors of the AKP. He said, without hesitation, “There in no work on it yet. The prime minister has not given any order, but he would not hesitate to bring back the death penalty if necessary. Since Turkey is currently trapped by terrorism, it would not be difficult to explain such a thing to the European Union.”

The AKP, on the other hand, made an interesting regulation just after that statement. The party presented its own proposal in the “legislation” section of the new Constitution to the Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission. In the proposal, the AKP made a considerable change in the article “Ratification of International Treaties.” The party’s proposed version is very different from the current Constitution.

In Article No. 90 of the current Constitution, a phrase reads “In the case of a conflict between international agreements in the area of fundamental rights and freedoms duly put into effect and the domestic laws due to differences in provisions on the same matter, the provisions of international agreements shall prevail.” In its proposal, the AKP deliberately excluded that phrase. It only included “international agreements duly put into effect have the force of law.”

Article No. 2 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union reads that, “Everyone has the right to life. No one shall be condemned to the death penalty, or executed.” Within this framework, Turkey abolished the death penalty from its Constitution.

This change in the proposal was interpreted as a clue to the AKP’s intention to bring back the death penalty. With its new proposal, the AKP might hint at its desire to declare that it will not regard the international treaties above their own laws and ignore the European Union’s charter if necessary.

The corridor got into action, and different scenarios were suggested. One of them suggests: “The AKP will complete its work on the new Constitution by the new year and will start to work on a constitutional package with another partner in 2013. This partner will probably be the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). That package will also include a change in Article No. 101 of the Constitution, which suggests the model of ‘president belonging to a political party.’ And the death penalty will be added to the package in order to persuade the MHP.”

When the AKP’s new Constitution proposal is examined, it would not be a surprise if such a scenario comes true.


Seyid Rıza, the leader of the Kurdish movement during the Dersim incident, was executed in 1937, during the period of single-party rule of the Republican People’s Party (CHP). On Nov. 5, CHP’s Tunceli deputy Hüseyin Aygün filed a proposal to Parliament which covers the “return of the dignities” of Rıza and his companions. Aygün referred to the incident as a “massacre” in his proposal. Probably, this proposal will not enter into force, but that “massacre” – in Aygün’s words – was committed during the CHP’s single-party government. So, a CHP deputy has apologized for the incident after 75 years.


The parties in Parliament, who have been unable to agree on any subject except a few articles in the Constitution Conciliation Commission, managed to reach a full consensus on the subject of “personal rights of deputies.” The AKP, CHP and BDP deputies offered similar proposals on the personal rights of deputies. The MHP joined the consensus on the condition that it would be included in internal regulations.


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Notice on comments

Chris Green

11/20/2012 12:04:04 AM

To be brief, if Turkey go down this route, which would be deeply erroneous so to do, such a penalty could not be applied retrospectively according to the Turkish penal code and those who think otherwise might wish to check this matter.


11/19/2012 4:36:48 PM

In my opinion there are many who clearly do not deserve the privilage of breathing the same air with the rest of us, but a justice system such as the one in Turkey, archaic, in the pocket of ruling parties, most undeveloped and backwards and least professional of all the instutuions in the Turkish Republic can not and should never be allowed to give out death sentences.

Agnes Smith

11/19/2012 4:10:47 PM

Take one look at this man?

Köksüz Kosmopolit

11/19/2012 11:48:13 AM

@Rudi, RTE does not want to be a new Atatürk, he wants to be the anti-Atatürk. As for bringing back the death penalty, he should be careful what he wishes for; people aren't always happy when they get it. Tayyip will never be a new Atatürk, but maybe he could end up a new Menderes.

Dennis Kavaz

11/19/2012 11:09:57 AM

If Ocalan has the means to tell the PKK supporters to stop a hunger strike, he also has means to tell others to continue terrorisms. Still to stop thugs from killing (although it is a harsh penalty) nevertheless [if you do the crime, you deserve the same] I.e. if it’s certainty it’s death penalty, if not he she goes on a death row. Which ever law is chosen however it should be the same for the King, the Prime minister and the farmer; let the World see how good the Turkish law is.

Rudi Spermon

11/19/2012 10:49:07 AM

"being religous" means "having the right to kill" ??

Rudi Spermon

11/19/2012 10:44:29 AM

It's obvious that with Erdoğan we are going back to the medieval times, head scarves, censorship is already common, can't even watch Dutch amusement TV online here. He wants to be the new Atatürk and be mentioned in the history books. Why is Taksim square empty in the new plans? To make a mosque in the future??? I think he's making himself implausible in the eyes of the world.

Faruk Beisser

11/19/2012 9:48:08 AM

Yes, yes, yes, bring back the death penalty, another step towards becoming a second Iran! And the true face of Gülen and Erbakan AKP and its Great Leader is coming more and more to the surface, namely, under the guise of wanting to join the EU lulling peoğle and in reality preparing for the Iranization of Turkey. Ayatollahs of Iran, move over, soon there will be a Grand Ayatollah!


11/19/2012 9:08:20 AM

A solution to the Northern Ireland troubles was found, without the need to bring back the death penalty. Move forward, not backward.
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