Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Death penalty in Turkey would ‘spell the end of EU membership bid’

European leaders appeared to take umbrage. “Let me be very clear,” the bloc’s foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said on Monday. “No country can join the European Union if it introduced the death penalty”...
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has angered European institutions and sparked fear among NGOs by claiming the death penalty could be restored in Turkey following a failed military coup to oust him from power.

A massive crack down on suspected coup plotters and participants among the branches of Turkey’s military was still underway on Tuesday, fuelling concerns over the respect of human rights amid the political chaos.

In response to demonstrators who chanted “Death Penalty, Death Penalty!” during recent pro-government rallies, Erdogan has promised the demand would be considered in the wake of the short-lived revolt.

 Turkish lawmakers abolished the death penalty in a two-fold process between 2002 and 2004 as part of the country’s bid to join the European Union, but calls for reinstating capital punishment have surged on social networks in recent days. The hashtag #Idamistiyorum, or “I want the death penalty”, has been shared tens of thousands of times.

Erdogan, who has previously evoked the possibility of bringing back the death penalty, brandished the threat again during a funeral service for some victims of the coup on Sunday.

“You cannot push the wish of the people to one side,” Erdogan said in reference to calls for the death penalty, while referring to supporters of his rival, the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen as a “virus” that had to be cleaned from the state.

Almost 20,000 members of the army, police, civil service and justice system
– a fifth of the country’s entire judiciary, according to some estimates – have been detained in a purge that started over the weekend.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also raised the possibility over the weekend, but tempered his remarks on Monday. “It would not be correct to act in haste but we cannot ignore our citizens' demand,” Yildirim said in comments following a cabinet meeting, noting that re-establishing the death penalty would require a constitutional change...


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