Death penalty remains on agenda of capital city

Death penalty remains on agenda of capital city

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Death penalty remains on agenda of capital city

The absence of the death penalty in EU countries doesn’t necessarily guarantee the reinstatement of this punishment, Egemen Bağış says. AA photo

Despite attempts by senior members of the Cabinet to allay heated debates over reinstating the death penalty after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued statements in favor of the death penalty, the issue is still a popular item on the agenda of the capital city, prompting a minor party openly lobbying on the issue.

“Having these discussions in Turkey doesn’t mean that a step will be taken tomorrow on this issue, but if there is a societal demand and an issue of debate — like how debates were held in the past on the abolishment of the death penalty in this country — today, there may be different discussions,” EU Minister Egemen Bağış said yesterday, while noting that he personally believed the death penalty was not a very useful penalty.

His remarks followed a statement by Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin who made it clear on Tuesday that reinstating the death penalty was not on his ministry’s agenda.

Democratic standards

Bağış argued that being able to discuss this issue was important in regards to the democratic standards of Turkey.

He suggested that the absence of the death penalty in EU countries today didn’t necessarily guarantee the reinstatement of this punishment in those countries.

His remarks came in response to reporters’ questions following a meeting with a visiting delegation from the PEN International Writers Association.

Meanwhile, Ergin’s remarks on the issue came late on Tuesday in response to questions from deputies during deliberations over the Justice Ministry’s 2013 budget at the Parliament’s Planning and Budget Commission.

“At the moment, there is no study at our ministry toward this direction,” Ergin responded when asked whether the Justice Ministry has been working on reinstating the death penalty.

“Yes, it is being discussed by the public opinion and the prime minister mentioned it, but at the moment such a study by our ministry is out of question,” Ergin said.

Yet, despite these statements, Erdoğan’s statements have already encouraged the Great Unity Party (BBP), a minor party that enthusiastically supports the death penalty and is not represented at the Parliament, to lobby the issue.

BBP leader Mustafa Destici handed over his party’s proposal on the issue to Erdoğan during a meeting on Tuesday.

Yesterday the BBP announced it would introduce its proposal to main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli as well, without specifying the date of the meetings.