Following Turkey’s coup d’etat on Friday (15 July), Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country should re-introduce capital punishment swiftly. The Turkish government has been in the meantime consolidating its power over the country, mainly the judiciary system and the army. The military coup claimed 290 lives, left more than 1,400 injured and led to 6,000 arrests.
President Erdogan referred to the crowds of people that gathered in front of his residence, calling for the reintroduction of death penalty, which was banned in 2004 as a concession towards the European Union’s accession criteria. Still, in reality, the last time death penalty was enforced in Turkey was in 1984. The European Union was quick to react when EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini stressed on Sunday (17 July) that “no country can become an EU Member State if it introduces a death penalty”, which is very clear from the EU’s acquis. Mrs Mogherini also added that Turkey is an important member of the Council of Europe and as such is bound by the European Convention on Human Rights that is also very clear on the death penalty.
Mrs Moherini also said that the EU was the first to have stressed the need to have the legitimate democratic institutions protected against the attempt of coup, which is, however, no excuse for taking the country away from fundamental rights and the rule of law. She emphasized that the EU would be extremely vigilant on this not for the sake of the EU but for Turkey itself and the Turkish people. It is not the first time that President Erdogan has called for the reintroduction of capital punishment in his country. In 2012, he said that the debate should be reopened to address the most serious crimes.