Turkey: Penalty for desertion from the military; whether a range of penalties exists and discretion permitted by the law in determining the penalty
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||1 June 1999|
|Citation / Document Symbol||TUR32030.E|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Turkey: Penalty for desertion from the military; whether a range of penalties exists and discretion permitted by the law in determining the penalty, 1 June 1999, TUR32030.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6acf04c.html [accessed 9 October 2015]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
The following information is taken from an undated publication by Ahmet Hür called Conscientious Objection to Armed Military Training in the Turkish Legal Procedure and from the Turkey section of the War Resisters International (WRI) publication Refusing to Bear Arms (1998, 284-6). The Research Directorate was unable to corroborate the accuracy or currency of this information regarding the Turkish Military Penal Code with the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey, within the time constraints of this Response.
According to these sources, Section 66 of the Turkish Military Penal Code prescribes a sentence of 1 to 3 years imprisonment for individuals on active service who are absent without leave for more than 6 days (Hür n.d., 23; WRI 1998, 285). Section 66 also specifies that in aggravating circumstances, where persons steal military property when deserting, desert while on duty, or repeat the offence of desertion, they must serve a minimum term of two years.
Individual Desertion to Foreign Country
Section 67 of the Turkish Military Penal Code, according to the sources, states that persons who flee to another country, and fail to return within three days of the date of desertion, shall be imprisoned for three to five years (where the military unit in question is mobilized, the grace period is reduced to one day). This section also specifies that in aggravating circumstances (as above) the minimum prison term is five years and may be increased to ten years (Hür 24; WRI 1998, 285-6). Finally, the section recommends the maximum sentence when the individual is an officer or a military clerical staff member.
The sources state that according to Section 68, in cases involving individual desertion and individual desertion to a foreign country in which the deserter surrenders within the limitations period, the punishment should be confinement to barracks. In cases involving individual desertion and individual desertion to a foreign country in which the deserter is captured within the limitations period, the punishment is imprisonment for up to three months (Hür 25; WRI 1998, 286).
Where a minimum of three individuals conspire to desert together, according to the publication, Section 68 states that the punishment is 2 to 5 years imprisonment if they remain in the country and 5 to 7 years if they desert to a foreign country (Hür 25-26; WRI 1998, 286).
According to Amnesty International, a Turkish conscientious objector who publicly burned his conscription notice and refused a subsequent order to report was charged with desertion and sentenced to a total of 15 months imprisonment after a series of trials (May 1998).
According to War Resisters International:
Many deserters are inmates in the Mamak military prison in Turkey. For deserters it is not easy to remain in hiding in Turkey. If there are identity checks, they risk getting caught, as identity-cards bear military registration-numbers. Many try to escape abroad (1998, 286).
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Response.
Amnesty International. May 1998. EUR 44/22/98. "Turkey: Osman Murat Ülke - Conscientious Objector Imprisoned for Life." [Internet]
Ahmet Hür. n.d. Conscientious Objection to Armed Military Training in the Turkish Legal Procedure. Bakaya Newspaper Brochure Series: 1. Translated by Translation Services, Public Works and Government Services Canada.
War Resisters International. 1998. Refusing to Bear Arms: A World Survey of Conscription and Conscientious Objection to Military Service. Bart Horeman and Marc Stolwijk. London: War Resisters International.
Additional Sources Consulted
Attempts to contact the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey.
Electronic sources: IRB Databases, WNC, CISNET, Internet.