Press Release on the Alleged Decriminalization of Sexual Abuse of Minors

It is deemed necessary to issue this press release since it has been observed that misleading news has been reported by some foreign media outlets by distorting the decision of the Constitutional Court dated 26 May 2016 numbered E.2015/108 and K.2016/46.

Contrary to the allegations, the acts of sexual abuse committed against minors under the age of fifteen (15) has not been decriminalized with the above-cited decision. Article 103 § 1 of the Turkish Penal Code, in its current form, prescribes a penalty without allowing mitigation of the penalty in particularly justified cases, and therefore, the minimum sentence for the offence may be disproportionately severe in some exceptional cases. It thus has been found in breach of the constitutional principle of “proportionality.” In this respect, the provision in question has been annulled on technical legal grounds. Accordingly, the annulment decision rendered by the Constitutional Court can in no way be construed as decriminalization of the acts of sexual abuse committed against minors under the age of fifteen (15).

Indeed, it has been decided that the decision for annulment take effect after six (6) months from the date of publication in the Official Gazette in order not to cause any legal gap in consequence of the annulment, thereby to prevent de facto decriminalization or impunity of the acts of sexual abuse against children by enabling the Parliament to enact a new provision concerning the offence in question on the grounds laid down in the Constitutional Court’s decision.

Hence, contrary to the speculations, the aforementioned penal provision is still in force, and the acts of sexual abuse committed against minors under the age of fifteen (15) constitute criminal offence under the Turkish Penal Code. The Parliament is provided with the opportunity to enact a new provision addressing the technical issues referred to in the annulment decision within the prescribed period.

Presidency of the Constitutional Court

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Turkey © 2015
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