EP calls on Turkey to respect commitments on death penalty

Zaman 13-11-2012 – The European Parliament has expressed concern over a growing debate about the possible reinstatement of capital punishment in Turkey, which was abolished for all circumstances in 2001. Ria Oomen-Ruijten, EP’s rapporteur on Turkey, said in a statement she sent to Today’s Zaman that abolition of the death penalty is one of the key aspects of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the EU can never accept the reinstatement of the death penalty in any member state, candidate member state or potential candidate state.

“I expect Turkey to respect its international commitments as a member of the Council of Europe [CoE] and as a signatory state to the European Convention of Human Rights. Moreover, I count on Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan to rely on his own judgments of the past 10 years in which the Turkish government, under his leadership, has abolished the death penalty,” the statement went on to say.

Oomen-Ruijten’s remarks came in response to Erdoğan, who said publicly over the weekend that Turkey may discuss bringing back capital punishment in cases of acts of terrorism and murder. Abolition of the death penalty is a pre-condition for membership in the 27-nation bloc. Turkey’s progress toward membership has come to a halt in recent years due to opposition from France and Germany, and Turkey has gradually been dissuaded from struggling for membership. Hannes Swoboda, head of the Socialists in the European Parliament, gave a harsh response to Erdoğan’s death sentence remarks, which he defined as “scandalous and provocative.” “The prime minister should decide what he wants. Does he want rapprochement with Europe or the radicalization of his country? Both do not work,” he stated. He also said Erdoğan should accept the consequences of the ending of Turkey’s EU bid if he insists on distancing it from the union’s values.

Also on Monday, Peter Stano, a spokesperson for Stefan Füle, EU commissioner for enlargement, spoke against the death penalty, saying global abolition of the penalty was one of the main objectives of the EU’s human rights policy. “Therefore, when the commission monitors compliance by candidate and potential candidate countries with the political criteria, it looks at the legal provisions on the death penalty. The abolition of the death penalty is one of the major political reforms achieved by Turkey in its European integration process,” he said.