The Turkish government has successfully amended the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code with a new law passed on 12 May 2022 (“the New Law”). With the amendments, perpetrators committing certain crimes will be dished out harsher sentences if the said crime is committed against a woman. These crimes :
(i) Murder with intent (Article 82)
(ii) Wounding with intent (Article 86)
(iii) Torture (Article 94)
(iv) Torment (Article 96)
(v) Threat (Article 106)
The lower limit foreseen for the aforementioned crimes will be significantly higher if such crimes are committed against women.
Furthermore, a new crime was designated under Article 123/A titled “Insistive Pursuit” which stipulates that a person could be sentenced up to 2 years if they insist on a) physically following a person or b) cause a serious concern of one’s safety by insisting to communicate by way of using communication devices, IT systems or by asking third persons to communicate with the other person their behalf. Moreover, the sentence shall be increased if the crime is committed against a minor, an ex-spouse or, if the victim is forced to change their place of study, place of work or their residence due to the acts of the perpetrator.
In addition, important procedural amendments were also introduced to enable further protection of women and make it easier to prosecute potential offenders: it is now possible to arrest a person if there is strong suspicion that the person has committed the offence of wounding with intent against a woman. The victim of the said offence is now also entitled to request the relevant bar to appoint a lawyer in order to represent her before the court.
Lastly, a rather controversial provision which enabled judges to lower the sentence of the perpetrator at their own discretion, once certain requirements were fulfilled, and which caused concern was also amended. Judges are still allowed to be lenient and entitled to lower the sentence, however the objective threshold has been raised: the perpetrator now has to demonstrate behaviour that prove their genuine remorse, and the judge has to provide the reasoning for lowering the sentence pursuant to the said provision. If the judge finds that the perpetrator is showing remorse during the hearings in order to deceive the court, he or she may refuse to lower the criminal sentence since the acts of remorse have to be genuine.
The amendments come forward as protective measures for crimes committed against women. The Turkish government pulled out of the Istanbul Convention1 in 2021 and these provisions may have been implemented as a substitute to the said convention. The amendments aim to tackle the issues surrounding hate and sexually-motivated crimes against women and it will be interesting to see how the courts will apply the new provisions.
With the New Law, a novel article has been implemented to the Medical Services Law which is related to the procedures concerning malpractice accusations and claims for damages resulting from the same. According to the said article, the Professional Liability Board2 (“the Board”) will determine whether the medical professional has neglected his or her duties by acting in breach of their responsibilities, and whether indemnity for the damages paid by the administration can be sought from the said professional – depending on their level of liability which will also be determined by the Board.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries regarding the New Law.
1The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence
2The members of the board will be determined by the Minister of Health, and the board will consist of 7 members who are highly experienced professionals working in the relevant field.