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'Law Providing for Defence in the Language of Preference'

“The Law amending the Criminal Procedure Law and Law on the Execution of Penal and Security Measures” known as “Law Providing for Defence in the Language of Preference” was adopted by the Turkish Grand National Assembly on 24 January 2013. An important step has been taken by providing the defendant with the opportunity to make his oral defence in another language in which he thinks he can better express himself. The Law ensures a modern framework for practices in penal institutions, thereby further enhancing the rights of detainees and convicts. It introduces amendments with regard to the right to a fair trial, the right to respect for the privacy of spouses and family life and juvenile justice, including the introduction of novel motivational rewards. 

The Law No. 5271 on Criminal Procedure, which is already in force in Turkey, stipulates that if the defendant or the victim is not sufficiently proficient in Turkish to make himself understood, an interpreter will be appointed by the court and the fee will be met by the State. The amendment to this Law in addition to the above-mentioned right, also allows the defendant, who is sufficiently proficient in Turkish to be able to make himself understood, to conduct his oral defence in another language in which he has declared that he can better express himself. The translation service will be provided by translators which the defendant selects from a list to be drawn up in accordance with this Law and in this case the fee for the translation is to be met by the defendant.

The other main amendments introduced by the Law are as follows: 

•         The sentence may be suspended for a person who is not able to live on his own due to poor health or disabilities and who will not pose a threat to society. In this case, the remaining sentence may be executed following recovery.

•         In case the convict needs accommodation during the period of permission, he may stay at his own residence or residence of his relatives or anywhere that is deemed to be secure, or a penal institution in this area.

•         Sentences for crimes committed with intent which are less than three years and sentences for crimes not committed with intent that are less than five years may be suspended by the Chief Prosecutor. However, suspension of sentences may not be applied for persons convicted of crimes upon request of the convict, related to terrorism, organised crime and crimes against sexual integrity.

•         Convicts who demonstrate good behaviour inside or outside the prison and actively participate in training and rehabilitation activities may be rewarded with motivational benefits, such as conjugal visits with spouses for adult convicts and meetings with their families for juvenile convicts for a duration from three hours to 24 hours without the presence of the personnel of the penal institution, the increasing of the duration of phone calls, the provision of television in single rooms and permission for open visits rather than closed visits. 


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