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Turkey has very broad terrorism provisions that encompass political opposition to the regime and those engaged in promoting fundamental human rights. There are offences labelled as terrorist and also offences termed against the State or against the Constitutional order. Certain offences may only be committed within the scope of activities of a terrorist organization. At least three individuals working in concert are needed for a terrorist organization to exist.

Compliance with International Law:
Last updated: one year ago

The Definition of Terrorism in Domestic Law

Terrorist offences are defined in a dedicated law from 1991 as well as in the Criminal Code of Turkey (now renamed Türkiye). An act of terrorism is deemed to occur when three cumulative conditions are met with respect to any act: the methods used involve coercion or force, there are purposes in furtherance of which the act is committed, and the perpetrator is a member of an unlawful (terrorist) organisation.

Terrorism is any kind of act done by one or more persons belonging to an organization with the aim of changing the characteristics of the Republic as specified in the Constitution, its political, legal, social, secular and economic system, damaging the indivisible unity of the State with its territory and nation, endangering the existence of the Turkish State and Republic, weakening or destroying or seizing the authority of the State, eliminating fundamental rights and freedoms, or damaging the internal and external security of the State, public order or general health by means of pressure, force and violence, terror, intimidation, oppression or threat. An organization for the purposes of this Law is constituted by two or more persons coming together for a common purpose. The term "organization" also includes formations, associations, armed associations, gangs or armed gangs as described in the Turkish Penal Code and in the provisions of special laws.Art. 1, 1991 Counterterrorism Law.


Membership of a terrorist organisation

The Court of Appeal of Türkiye has identified two cumulative criteria that establish membership of a terrorist organisation. The first of these concerns the existence of an organic relationship between members that goes beyond the mere provision of assistance to the activities of the organisation. This usually manifests itself in the existence and enforcement of a hierarchical relationship. Second, the member must have offered his or her loyalty to the organisation according to which he or she undertakes to act in furtherance of the purposes of the organisation and as such becomes a part of it. 

Adherence to Global and Regional Terrorism Treaties


Türkiye has adhered to the core United Nations treaties on terrorism.


Adherence to Global Terrorism Treaties
Treaty Adherence
1973 Convention on Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons State Party
1979 Hostage-Taking Convention State Party
1997 Terrorist Bombings Convention State Party
1999 Terrorist Financing Convention State Party
2005 Nuclear Terrorism Convention State Party


Türkiye has also adhered to the four European treaties on terrorism.


Adherence to Regional Terrorism Treaties
Treaty Adherence
1977 European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism State Party
2003 Protocol amending the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism State Party
2005 Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism State Party
2015 Additional Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism State Party

Laws and Penalties for Terrorist Offences

Penalties for ordinary criminal offences when committed with a terrorist element result in the applicable sentence being increased by one half. 

Membership of a terrorist organisation is a continuous act, which ceases only upon the disruption of the hierarchical relationship between the individual and the organisation. If an individual belonging to a terrorist organisation commits an act of terrorism within the scope of the activities of the organisation, he or she is sentenced both for the act committed and for their membership of a terrorist organisation.

The Anti-Terror Law criminalizes the dissemination of terrorist propaganda and incitement to prohibited acts for which the perpetrator is punishable with imprisonment for between one and five years.Art. 7(2), 1991 Anti-Terror Law.The acts of carrying or hanging symbols, pictures, or signs that are related to a terrorist organisation; chanting slogans; broadcasting; or wearing uniforms that carry symbols, pictures or signs that are related to a terrorist organisation are also punishable by between one and five years in prison, regardless of whether these take place during a gathering or demonstration.Art. 7(3), 1991 Anti-Terror Law.There is thus no explicit exception for the exercise of fundamental human rights.

In a 2019 judgment, the Constitutional Court ruled that the criminal conviction for terrorist propaganda and crimes against the State of academics who signed the "Academics for Peace" declaration regarding the peace process between Kurds and the central government was unalwful on the basis that it infringed their freedom of speech. 

Counterterrorism Capacities and Policies at Domestic Level

The OSCE has reported that Turkey’s main governmental bodies involved in policy-making with regard to combating terrorism are the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of National Defense. The Government authorities that deal with counterterrorism in operational terms are the National Police, the Gendarmerie General Command, the Coast Guard Command, and the National Intelligence Agency. The first three organizations report to the Minister of Interior, whereas the National Intelligence Agency reports directly to the President.

There are four main departments in charge of counterterrorism in the Directorate General of Security: the Department of Counter-Terrorism and Operations, the Department of Intelligence, the Department of Special Forces, and the Department of Witness Protection. The Counterterrorism Department is responsible for coordinating the relevant departments, terrorist identification, screening, and tracking, searching for and gathering evidence, and for submitting an investigation report to the Prosecution office.

Amnesty International has reported that the Turkish parliament "rushed through" Law No. 7262 on the Prevention of the Financing of the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction in the final days of 2020 and without any consultation with civil society; it came into force on 31 December. Amnesty affirms that:

Law No. 7262 has not been drafted with sufficient clarity and precision. As a result, it can be used by the Turkish authorities as a pretext to restrict the ability of NPOs to carry out their legitimate activities. It exceeds the pursued aim of fighting terrorism financing and represents a serious risk to interference with the exercise of the right to freedom of association by NPOs in general and human rights organizations in particular. 

The Constitution precludes certain political participation for anyone convicted of a terrorist offence. 


Turkey 1991 Anti-Terror Law (unofficial English translation)

Penal Code of Turkey (unofficial English version)

Amnesty International Report_Weaponising Counterterrorism (2017)

Üstel et al (2019 judgment) (original)

Constitution of Turkey