Our new GLOBALCIT website is under construction. In the meantime, please use the current website as before.

Turkey issues a decree to withdraw citizenship of suspects staying abroad

By Zeynep Kadirbeyoglu, EUDO CITIZENSHIP/GLOBALCIT expert

Citizenship is usually not the subject of politics in Turkey. Only at times of crises, such as those about Syrian refugees or the failed coup attempt of July 2016, does the government or the opposition and the public opinion take notice of the law or the policies regarding naturalisation and withdrawal of citizenship. When the conflict with the Kurdish PKK escalated following the cancellation of peace talks at the end of 2015 and throughout 2016, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated in a meeting with lawyers in April 2016: “We should be decisive to take all sorts of precautions, including the withdrawal of citizenship, to shut off the supporters of terrorist organizations. These people cannot be our citizens.” 

The failed coup attempt of July 2016 resulted in the declaration of emergency rule in Turkey and there were many decrees issued by the government to change existing laws and purge public sector employees, ranging from teachers to academics, from civil servants in ministries to medical doctors, and from police officers to military personnel. Approximately 100.000 individuals were purged from public service and many were detained based on charges that they were supporters of the Gülenist movement. 

Decree No. 680, which was approved during the meeting of the cabinet on 2 January 2017 and published in the official gazette on 6 January, amended article 29 of the Citizenship Law (No. 5901, 29/5/2009) and introduced the possibility of withdrawing citizenship [1]. 

According to the new clause, the cabinet can decide to withdraw the citizenship of individuals who are suspected of “crimes against the government,” “armed rebellion against the government,” “armed attack and assassination of the president” or “membership in an armed terror organization” (articles No 302, 309, 310, 311, 312, 313, 314 and 315 of the Penal Code) if they do not respond to a call to return to Turkey within three months when they are under investigation. Unlike recent laws providing for the withdrawal of citizenship from terrorist suspects in several western democracies, the decree does not only apply to suspects holding several citizenships and therefore may result in turning them stateless. 

The last wave of withdrawal of citizenship had taken place in the aftermath of the 1980 military coup in Turkey: 14.000 individuals who had left Turkey in the aftermath of the coup were stripped of their citizenship in the 1980s because they had failed to return upon being summoned by the authorities. 



[1]  http://www.resmigazete.gov.tr/eskiler/2017/01/20170106M1-2.htm 


For details of current and past citizenship legislation in Turkey, consult our country profile pages.