Turkey’s top court will review discriminatory law on release of prisoners

The Turkish Constitutional Court decided on Wednesday to review the constitutionality of legislation on the execution of sentences that was recently approved by parliament and signed into law by the president.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) appealed to the court, challenging the constitutionality of the law in both form and substance and demanding its annulment.

The law on the execution of sentences, enacted on April 15, was conceived as a measure against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic to the country’s overcrowded prisons. The legislation included the possibility of early parole and house arrest for a broad range of offenders, yet excluded those convicted of sex or drug crimes, first degree murder and domestic violence as well as terrorism-related crimes.

Tens of thousands of political prisoners including politicians, journalists, lawyers, academics and human rights defenders convicted under Turkey’s controversial and broadly interpreted counterterrorism laws were unable to benefit from the law, attracting the criticism of the international community.

The General Assembly of the Constitutional Court announced that it did not detect any procedural deficiency in the file and that it would review the petition for annulment on substance at a time to be determined. The CHP’s request for a stay of execution will also be decided during the main review phase.

According to the Turkish Constitution, the court examines the constitutionality, in respect of both form and substance, of laws, presidential decrees and the Rules of Procedure of parliament.

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