According to a recent assessment by the Arrested Lawyers Initiative of Justice Ministry statistics, Turkish courts sentenced 266,811 persons to prison on terrorism offenses between 2016 and 2020, exploiting unclear anti-terrorist law.
According to the poll, Turkish public prosecutors brought more than 420,000 accusations under Article 314 of the Turkish Penal Code (membership in a terrorist group) in the last eight years.
Turkey has the biggest population of detainees convicted of terrorism-related acts, according to a report by the Council of Europe. According to the research, there are currently 30,524 detainees in COE member states who have been imprisoned for terrorism, with 29,827 of them being held in Turkish jails.
The problem is that the Turkish Penal Code lacks a definition of what constitutes armed organizations and armed groups, as well as a definition of membership as a crime, according to the Arrested Lawyers Initiative. “These provisions are prone to arbitrary application and abuse due to the lack of legal definitions and criteria of what defines an armed terrorist organization and the offense of participation in an armed terrorist organization.”
Article 314 of the Turkish Penal Code carries a punishment of seven and a half to twenty-two and a half years in jail.
“Due to the ambiguous wording of the criminal laws on state security and terrorism, as well as their unduly broad interpretation by Turkish courts and prosecutors, all opponents, particularly attorneys, human rights activists, journalists, and rival politicians, are at risk of court harassment. The Turkish government actively uses this ambiguous area under the Turkish Penal Code to investigate, prosecute, and convict opponents, according to the initiative.
Turkey has also used the anti-terrorism legislation's ambiguous wording in its hostage diplomacy.
More than 30 Western nationals have been imprisoned in Turkey following a failed military coup on July 15, 2016, according to the Foundation for Defence of Democracies (FDD) report "Erdogan's Hostage Diplomacy — Western Nationals in Turkish Prisons." Almost every single one of these foreign nationals was charged with terrorism-related offenses.