AKP to bring back the death penalty?

AKP to bring back the death penalty?

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
AKP to bring back the death penalty

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

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.