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Turkey: Crime and Punishment
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Crime and Punishment


The Turkish court system and judicial procedures are based on European models adopted after the establishment of the republic. For example, the system of criminal justice that replaced the Islamic justice system of the Ottoman Empire derives from the Italian penal code, and civil law follows the Swiss model.

Crimes are defined as either felonies or misdemeanors, the latter including minor infractions such as traffic violations. Felonies include premeditated homicide, theft, arson, armed robbery, embezzlement of state property, perjury, and rape.

Punishments for felonies fall into the categories of strict imprisonment, ordinary imprisonment, and heavy fines. Under the Criminal Code of 1926, as amended, certain crimes against the state and premeditated murder were punished with the death penalty. In practice, executions were suspended in 1984. More than 1,000 death sentences were pending when blanket commutations were granted in 1986, and capital punishment ended formally with passage of the Anti-Terror Law of 1991. Strict imprisonment entails labor for between one year and life and, for a recidivist, could begin with a period of solitary confinement. Ordinary imprisonment can range up to twenty years and also requires labor. In serious cases, convictions may disqualify a person from holding public office and from practicing a profession or trade. Withdrawal of the right to vote and payment of damages or restitution also may result from conviction for a felony. In 1986 the Execution of Sentences Act halved the time for prisoners then serving jail sentences. Life sentences were reduced to twenty years and death sentences commuted to thirty-year terms.

Last Updated: January 1995

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Turkey was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Turkey Main Page Country Studies Main Page

Section 198 of 206


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