Voting, candidacy ban on prisoners unconstitutional: Top court

Publication date: 
Nov 26 2015

Persons imprisoned over deliberate criminal activity will now be able to be candidates in elections, according to the latest ruling of Turkey’s Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court annulled several items of Article 53 of the Turkish Criminal Code (TCK) that deprived prisoners of the right to candidacy, vote and other political activities, stating in its ruling that the items in question violate the constitution, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

The top court noted in its ruling that restrictions over fundamental rights and freedoms as well as the purpose of these restrictions should not be excessive in a democratic society. 

The ruling came as the criminal court of first instance in the Central Anatolian province of Çankırı filed a request with the Constitutional Court demanding annulment of several items of Article 53, because of their “deprivation of specific rights” for the imprisoned.

The item, which bans those who are imprisoned over a deliberate criminal act from being candidate in elections, is unconstitutional, the ruling said.

The ruling said the item that deprives imprisoners serving less than a year of the right to candidacy “does not comply with Article 76 of the constitution.”

“The item [subjected to the written request filed by the Çankırı court], which even bans those with a jail sentence of less than a year over a deliberate criminal act of the right to candidacy, violates Article 76 of the constitution and should be annulled,” the ruling said, noting that the periodical prison sentence should not be less than a month and more than 20 years unless otherwise stated.

The constitutional court has also stated in its ruling that banning prisoners convicted over a deliberate criminal act from voting is not legal according to the rights guaranteed in the constitution. 

“The restriction on the right to vote for prisoners convicted over a deliberate criminal act goes beyond the limitations defined in the constitution,” it added.

Regarding other political activities, the top court said banning those who are convicted over a deliberate criminal act from the right to political activities “does not comply with the reasonability principle in state of law,” cited in Article 2 of the constitution.