Turkey has carried out no executions since 1984, and can therefore be included in the list of de facto abolitionist states. However, it has yet to sign the Sixth Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, and courts continue to hand down death sentences. Fifty-seven death sentences that have been confirmed on appeal are currently pending at the final parliamentary stage.
Prime Minister Ecevit has made clear his personal opposition to the death penalty, and Minister of Justice Hikmet Sami Turk has said that "Turkey, as a member of the Council of Europe and a candidate for full E.U. membership, should make the appropriate amendments to its judicial system. The abolition of the death penalty should be debated within this framework . . . . Turkey should harmonize its own judicial system with the trends in the European system. And the tendency in Europe is against the death penalty."44
Human Rights Watch is optimistic that Turkey is now ready to abolish the death penalty-an important milepost for human rights in that country and a step toward abolition worldwide.
Accession Partnership Recommendation:
* Pending full de jure abolition of the death penalty in Turkish law, the Turkish government should sign the sixth optional protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights and thereby firmly commit itself not to carry out any further executions. This measure is specified in both the Report and the Calendar, and the latter schedules the abolitionist penal code for submission to parliament at the end of 2001. If the government's intention is to abolish the death penalty, there is no reason why signature of the sixth optional protocol should wait.44 Turkish Daily News, December 30, 1999.