Monday, July 18, 2016

Coups are wrong. So is the death penalty

Over the weekend there was a failed coup attempt in Turkey. Like many people, I don't like the current Turkish government, which has attempted to suppress the media and silence criticism. But I like the idea of overthrowing it by force even less. Like it or not, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AKP party are democratically elected. The only legitimate way to get rid of them is by voting them out at the next election - something which almost happened last year.

In the wake of the coup we've seen disturbing photos of people beating captured soldiers. We've also seen calls for the reintroduction of the death penalty, and the government likes the idea, with Erdogan promising that those responsible for the coup will "pay". In the process, they're giving a perfect example of how the death penalty is about sadism and revenge, not justice.

The death penalty is monstrous and barbaric. Reintroducing it would violate Turkey's obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR. Applying it retrospectively would violate basic standards of justice and make Turkey a pariah nation.

Those responsible for Turkey's coup deserve justice. But no-one deserves to be executed. Turkey should stay civilised and resist these calls for a return to barbarism.