|Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan|
After an attempted military coup, Turkey's president said he's considering bringing back the death penalty.
As part of its ongoing attempt to join the European Union, Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004.
In 1987, Turkey applied to join the then-European Economic Community. The country was declared eligible to join the EU a decade later.
A return of the death penalty would seemingly take that progress a step back, as abolition of the death penalty is a precondition to entering the EU.
The military's attempted government takeover last week failed. In the aftermath, more than 6,000 people have been arrested, and that number is expected to rise.
Supporters of the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took to the streets, some chanting "we want death penalty."
Erdoğan noted that the people's opinion matters and said he would talk with other government leaders before making a decision.
He said, "We cannot delay this decision too much. Because those who stage a coup against the state in this country should pay the price for it."
Germany: Turkey Return of Death Penalty Would End EU Accession Talks
BERLIN— Turkey cannot join the European Union if it reinstates the death penalty, a spokesman for the German government said on Monday, sending a clear message to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who has raised the possibility after a failed military coup.
The government also urged Turkey to maintain the rule of law in investigating and bringing those behind the weekend coup attempt to justice, and raised questions about Turkey's decision to round up thousands of judges.
"Germany and the member states of the EU have a clear position on that: we categorically reject the death penalty," government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference. "A country that has the death penalty can't be a member of the European Union and the introduction of the death penalty in Turkey would therefore mean the end of accession negotiations."
Turkey abolished capital punishment in 2004, allowing it to open EU accession talks the following year, but the negotiations have made scant progress since then.
With pro-government protesters demanding that the coup leaders be executed, Erdogan said on Sunday that the government would discuss the measure with opposition parties.
Even before the coup attempt, many EU states were not eager to see such a large, mostly Muslim country as a member, and were concerned that Ankara's record on basic freedoms had gone into reverse in recent years.
Turkey widened the crackdown on suspected supporters of the coup on Sunday, taking the number of people rounded up in the armed forces and judiciary to 6,000.
German officials said they had seen no evidence of any conspiracy in the events beyond an effort by parts of the Turkish military to seize control of the government.
Erdogan and the Turkish government have accused the U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan, of orchestrating the coup.
Seibert said German and EU officials would emphasize the need to maintain the rule of law in all their conversations with Turkey. He said he expected EU foreign ministers to address their concerns about the revival of the death penalty and disproportionate punishment in a joint statement about the situation after a meeting in Brussels later on Monday.
"Everyone understands that the Turkish government and the Turkish justice system must bring those responsible for the coup to justice, but they must maintain the rule of law, and that always means maintaining proportionality... and transparency."
German Foreign Minster Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke to his counterpart early on Sunday, but Chancellor Angela Merkel has not spoken to Erdogan since the attempted coup, government spokesmen said.
Source: Reuters, July 18, 2016
Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition would not support death penalty - spokesman
Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) would not support any proposal put to parliament on the reintroduction of the death penalty following a failed coup attempt, party spokesman Ayhan Bilgen told Reuters.
"No, we will not support it," Bilgen said, adding that in any case new laws could not be applied retroactively and that it was the responsibility of politicians to communicate this to the people.
Responding to crowds of supporters calling for the death penalty for the plotters on Sunday, President Tayyip Erdogan said such demands could not be ignored.
Source: Reuters, July 18, 2016
The death penalty must not be the legacy of Turkey's quashed coup
The military coup that was launched, and that failed, between Friday night and Saturday morning, showed the two faces of today's Turkey in sharp relief. On the one hand, there was the old tendency of the military to take responsibility for the nation, with officers casting themselves as the guardians of law and order and the secular state. On the other, there was a new sense of pride in even flawed democracy that brought people, young and old, religious and not, into the streets to oppose an illegal seizure of power. The people won; so far, so good.
The aftermath is starting to look a lot less palatable. If the failure of the coup can be seen as a victory for modern, European, democratic Turkey - or at least aspirations in that direction - it is not at all apparent that the trend will continue. There are now believed to be 6,000 people under arrest, including senior members of the armed forces and - more surprisingly - of the judiciary. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears to be exploiting his position to eliminate his enemies, far beyond those actually responsible for the plot against him. Nor is "eliminate" necessarily too strong a word: he has called for the return of the death penalty and whipped up enthusiastic crowds in his support. The proposition could be put to parliament.
Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004, when it joined the Council of Europe. The move was part of its pursuit of European credentials at a time when its ambitions to join the EU were at their height. Reinstating the death penalty would be a highly retrograde step, doubly so if it were done as a response to a particular event. Asking parliament to decide, in such circumstances, could be seen as an improvement on summary justice - which also appears to be a possibility - but not by much.
With the Turkish state as fragile as it is, any appeal to the president to stay his hand could be difficult
Beyond making the strongest possible diplomatic representations, is there anything either the Council of Europe, in the shape of the European court at Strasbourg, or the EU can do? The first move might be a little self-examination. Even as stable a state as the UK retained the death penalty for treason until 1998, though it had been abolished for other crimes decades earlier. It is hard to regard the coup attempt in Turkey as anything other than treason. With the Turkish state as fragile as it evidently still is, any appeal to the president to stay his hand could be difficult.
Attempts should nonetheless be made. On a hierarchy of priorities, the first should be opposition to summary justice. The second should be a demand for due process: no mass trials or convictions. Rank-and-file conscripts cannot be held accountable for the plotting of their superiors. The failed coup should not provide a pretext for the president to purge his political enemies more broadly. Any moral superiority he might now command would soon dissipate.
It has to be recognised, however, that the persuasive power of Strasbourg is restricted to the moral plane, while the bargaining clout of Brussels is limited. The EU is more dependent on Turkey's goodwill than it was before the agreement on repatriating migrants, however questionable that deal was and however imperfectly it is operating. The ray of hope is that Turkey entered into that agreement at all, which suggested that Erdogan and his government had an interest not just in the money, but in keeping the country's EU application alive.
With the survival of democracy at risk, the Turkish president's priorities may have changed. But the EU's priorities for aspiring members - including respect for the rule of law - should not.
Source: The Guardian, July 18, 2016
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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde