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Capital punishment in Turkey

Capital punishment has been abolished in Turkey as of 2004, and Turkey has not executed any prisoners since October 1984.[1]


Prior to 1984, executions would usually happen after military interventions. Adnan Menderes, who served as Prime Minister was hanged on 17 September 1961 following the 1960 coup d'état, along with two other cabinet members, Fatin Rüştü Zorlu and Hasan Polatkan. The student leaders Deniz Gezmiş, Hüseyin İnan and Yusuf Aslan were hanged on 6 May 1972 after the 1971 military memorandum. Following the 1980 coup d'état, between 1980 and 1984, a total of 50 men, including 27 political activists, were executed by Turkish authorities.[2]

Twenty-four articles of the 1926 Turkish Penal Code (Law 765) provided for a mandatory death penalty, 19 of them for crimes against the state, the government, the Constitution and military, and a further ten for criminal offenses like murder and rape. These 24 articles defined a total of 29 offenses.[3]

Under Article 12 of Law 765, death sentences were to be carried out by hanging after being approved by act of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi), or the TBMM. Within TBMM they were reviewed by the Judicial Committee before being voted on by parliament as a whole. This decision had to be ratified by the President, who had the power to commute death sentences on grounds of age or ill-health.[3]

By Law 4771 of 9 August 2002 (the 3rd Package for Harmonization with the European Union) the death penalty was abolished for peacetime offences. Law 5218 of 14 July 2004 abolished the death penalty for all times.[4] Turkey ratified Protocol No. 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights, overseen by the Council of Europe, in February 2006.

After the failed 2016 coup d'état, some politicians are talking about restoring the death penalty.[5]Erdogan, President of Turkey since 2014, has announced (29 October 2016) that the Government (PM Binali Yıldırım, Yıldırım Cabinet) will present a draft law restoring the death penalty to the Turkish Parliament ("and I will countersign it").[6]

Abdullah Ocalan was also supposed to be executed, however Turkey gave up Capital Punishment.[7]

On 19 March 2017, Erdogan said he would immediately approve the reinstatement of capital punishment after the upcoming constitutional referendum.[8] However, this has not yet happened.


The death sentence was replaced by aggravated life imprisonment (ağırlaştırılmış müebbet hapis cezası). According to Article 9 of Law 5275 on the Execution of Sentences[9] these prisoners are held in individual cells in high security prisons and are allowed to exercise in a neighbouring yard one hour per day.[citation needed]


  1. ^
  2. ^ A complete list of all executed people (in Turkish), accessed on 10 September 2009
  3. ^ a b Amnesty International Injustice leads to the gallows, February 1990; the relevant page as an image can be found at
  4. ^ "Turkey agrees death penalty ban," BBC News. The gradual abolition of capital punishment in Turkey went as follows: 2002 for peacetime offences, 2004 for wartime offences.
  5. ^ "Turkey Coup: Erdogan government could restore death penalty, deputy leader warns," The Independent. Hashtag #Idamistiyorum ('I want death penalty') becomes the top trend on Turkish Twitter
  6. ^ 29 October 2016: Erdogan lässt Parlament über Todesstrafe abstimmen
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ An online edition of Law 5275 (in Turkish on pages of the Turkish Government); accessed on 10 September 2009