Turkish Speaker endorses return of capital punishment

(Updated with AKP vice chair's comments)

Turkish Parliament speaker Mustafa Şentop endorsed bringing back the death penalty “for very limited, certain offences,” a proposal first put forward by the leader of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) this week, news website Artı Gerçek reported on Friday.

The death penalty was on the agenda and was discussed for months by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following the attempted coup on July 15, 2016.

MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli said the death penalty would help to deter people from committing “disgusting and primitive crimes” such as the murder of women and children, in a written statement published on the MHP website.

“It is evident that there is no other option in terms of its success in battling crime and criminals, who have surpassed the threshold of fear,” the MHP leader said.

Speaking to Turkish news outlet T24, former European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) judge Rıza Türmen said bringing back the capital punishment would have heavy cost for Turkey. Türmen said due to the international agreements that Turkey is part of, reinstating the death penalty would be difficult. If that were to happen, Türmen said, then Turkey would have no choice but to withdraw from European Council and European Convention on Human Rights.

Parliament Speaker Şentop just met with European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) President Robert Spano on Thursday expressing his respect to the court as well as his hope to work with the ECHR during his tenure.

While Spano's visit in Turkey continues, another senior official of the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), deputy chair at Parliament, Cahit Özkan, also called for the reinstatement of capital punishment on Saturday.

“If the citizens of country are asking for capital punishment to be brought back for crimes that are threatening Turkey's peace and tranquility,'' Özkan said, “then we need to do what is necessary.''

Özkan added that international laws would have to respect Turkey's decision and the country would do “whatever is necessary to attain social peace and meet citizens' expectations for justice.''