''Crime of Stalking''
Crime of Stalking (Tr.: Israrlı Takip) is a type of crime regulated by Law No. 7406 dated May 12, 2022, in response to the increasing cases of domestic violence, particularly against women, and incidents of verbal abuse and harassment on social media. These actions have been facilitated by electronic communication devices.
Although Turkey has withdrawn from the Istanbul Convention, Article 34 of the Convention defines stalking as "repeated threatening behavior directed against another person, performed in a manner that will deter that person from feeling safe, causing serious disturbance." The section titled "Israrlı Takip" in Article 123/A of the Turkish Penal Code is as follows:
"(1) A penalty of imprisonment for a term of six months to two years shall be imposed on anyone who persistently, by physically tracking or attempting to establish contact through communication and messaging tools, information systems, or third parties, causes serious distress to a person or leads them or one of their close relatives to be concerned about their safety.
(2) If the offense is committed:
a) against a child or a person from whom a separation decision has been issued or to whom a divorce has been granted,
b) leading the victim to change their school, workplace, or residence, or causing them to leave their school or job,
c) by the perpetrator, who is subject to a restraining order or a non-approach measure with respect to their residence, school, or workplace,
the perpetrator shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of one to three years.
(3) Investigation and prosecution of the offense provided for in this article depend on a complaint."
The elements of the Crime of Stalking result from the realization of either one or both of the following optional actions:
Physically tracking a person: This involves the perpetrator repeatedly visiting locations such as the person's home, workplace, or school to track them.
Persistently attempting to communicate with a person: This includes the perpetrator constantly calling the person's mobile phone, attempting to reach them through social media platforms, sending messages, and so on.
For the mentioned actions to constitute a crime, the victim must experience discomfort or concern due to these actions. If the actions do not cause any unease or distress to the victim, they do not qualify as the Crime of Stalking.
There is no special regulation regarding the perpetrator or victim of the Crime of Stalking. Anyone can become the perpetrator or victim as a result of the commission of the optional actions mentioned above. However, the following circumstances are stipulated as aggravating factors for the penalty:
Committing the offense against a child or a person from whom a separation decision has been issued or who has been divorced,
Causing the victim to change their workplace, residence, or school, or causing them to leave their school or job as a result of the offense,
Committing the offense by a person who is subject to a restraining order or a non-approach measure with respect to their residence, school, or workplace.
In these circumstances, the penalty shall be increased to a term of imprisonment between one and three years.
It should be noted that the Crime of Stalking is a complaint-dependent crime, and the complaint period is six months from the date of learning about the existence of the actions constituting the offense, or in any case, eight years from the date of the commission of the actions.
As the upper limit of the penalty for both the simple and qualified forms of the Crime of Stalking does not exceed ten years, the competent court is the Criminal Court of First Instance.
The elements, commission, and penalty of the Crime of Stalking have been outlined in general terms as stated above. Given its relatively recent legalization and the ease of its commission through social media tools and communication platforms, encountering this offense in daily life is highly likely.
It is of utmost importance that both victims and perpetrators of the Crime of Stalking are able to accurately present themselves before the judiciary and are aware of their legal rights. Therefore, seeking legal assistance through a lawyer during the judicial process is advisable to ensure proper proceedings and to prevent any violation of rights.
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