Reintroduction of death penalty by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

July 18, 2016 12:00 pm

Turkish President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan (C) and former President Abdullah Gul (C-R) attend the funeral
of a victim of the recent coup attempt in Istanbul, July 17, 2016.
(Photo by AFP)

’s President Recep
Tayyip Erdogan has hinted that the country may reintroduce the death
penalty to allow the execution of those involved in a recent failed coup
in the country.

“In democracies, decisions are made
based on what the people say. I think our government will speak with the
opposition and come to a decision,” he said on Sunday to a crowd of
supporters calling for capital punishment for putschists.
“We
cannot delay this anymore because in this country, those who launch a
coup will have to pay the price for it,” the Turkish president said. He
was speaking at the funeral of a victim of the coup attempt in Istanbul.
An
attempted coup in Turkey began on Friday night and the violence and
fighting between the putschists and government loyalists dragged into
Saturday, when the coup was largely defeated.
A total of 290 people were killed in the attempted coup d’état in Turkey.
At
least 6,000 people have been arrested across the country after the
failed coup, with the crackdown is expected to be widened, Justice
Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Sunday.
The restoration of the death
penalty, which was annulled in Turkey in 2004 under reforms aimed at
joining the European Union (EU), would magnify differences between
Turkey and the EU in the already-stalled talks over Ankara’s accession
to the bloc.
The crackdown that has been launched in Turkey
following the coup, including the mass arrests of suspects, has raised
international concern.
France has already cautioned Erdogan not to
use the recent failed coup in the country as a “blank check” to silence
his opponents.
Austria, too, has said the potential move by Turkey would be “unacceptable.”
“The
introduction of the death penalty would of course be absolutely
unacceptable,” Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said in an
interview published on Monday. “There must be no arbitrary purges, no
criminal sanctions outside the framework of the rule of law and the
justice system.”

The Turkish president has said a “clear crime of treason” has been
committed by coup plotters and he will approve a decision to reinstate
the death penalty if passed by parliament.
Authorities have fired
nearly 9000 military officers, bureaucrats, police and others, while
detaining thousands more alleged to have been involved in Friday night’s
attempted coup, which left more than 260 people dead.
Turkey
abolished capital punishment in 2004 as the country sought to become a
member of the European Union. After the failed coup attempt on Friday,
there were calls to reinstate the death penalty.
Turkish
President , whose government survived the failed
military coup, said he would ratify it if parliament approves.
“There
is a clear crime of treason and your request (death penalty) cannot be
rejected by our government. Parliament needs to discuss it and if the
leaders agree and discuss it then I as president will approve any
decision to come out of the parliament,” he told CNN International on
Monday evening.

“Why should I keep them and feed them in prisons, for years to come? That’s what the people say.
“They
want a swift end to it, because people lost relatives, neighbours,
children… they’re suffering so the people are very sensitive and we
have to act very sensibly and sensitively.”
Turkey has also seen a spate of bombings in recent months blamed on the Islamic State group and Kurdish rebels.
The
EU has called on Turkish authorities to exercise restraint, saying the
reinstatement of the death penalty would threaten its membership bid.
Amnesty International warned on Monday that human rights were in “grave danger.”
Amnesty’s
director for Europe and Central Asia John Dalhuisen said the sheer
number of arrests and suspensions since Friday were “alarming”.
“Cracking down on dissent and threatening to bring back the death penalty are not justice,” he said.
Thousands
of people have been dismissed or detained in the judiciary, interior
ministry, military and police following Friday’s failed coup.
The large scale of the crackdown has also alarmed Turkey’s key allies, the United States and the European Union.
Amnesty
said it was investigating reports that detainees in Ankara and Istanbul
had been subjected to a series of abuses, including ill-treatment in
custody and being denied access to lawyers.
Meanwhile, Human
Rights Watch Europe and Central Asia Director Hugh Williamson noted:
“The speed and scale of the arrests, including of top judges, suggests a
purge rather than a process based on any evidence. Turkey’s citizens
who took to the streets to defend democracy deserve a response that
upholds the rule of law.”

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