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YUSUF KANLI

yusuf.kanli@hurriyet.com.tr

YUSUF KANLI > ‘Big Brother’ is unconstitutional

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All Turkish cities have become something like the set of the famous TV series “Someone is Watching Us” or the “BBG House.” It is as though some sort of a “Big Brother,” sprung from George Orwell’s famous novel “1984” has begun watching the entire nation.

At every junction, at every crossroads, on top of many tall buildings overlooking some “sensitive” areas of cities, and along the national highways, high-definition cameras and webcams have been installed. These cameras and webcams were installed according to an added clause in the law on the duties and powers of the police: To prevent imminent danger, maintain public order, prevent crime, help capture suspects and enforce traffic security and control.

Under the same regulation, visible announcements must be placed in areas where such devices have been installed and the data recorded by such devices may be stored for a maximum of one month, and should be erased when that period has expired.

Many people opposed the massive use of such monitoring devices by the police, which indeed creates a “Big Brother” situation, with the state watching over and recording the actions of the entire population. Many people, on the other hand, with an understanding that in order for public order to be preserved individual liberties may sometimes be curtailed, appreciated the “Big Brother” system.

Now, in a surprise move, the Laws General Directorate of the Justice Ministry has written to the Interior Ministry that police have been collecting “individual data” on citizens using such devices. “Individual data” about citizens, however, are protected by international conventions as well as safeguarded by the Turkish Constitution. Thus, the Justice Ministry said the Interior Ministry was committing a constitutional crime by collecting individual data on citizens using cameras and webcams.

Of course the people serving at the Laws General Directorate of the Justice Ministry are bureaucrats who are expert in interpreting law; they do not know how to bend them to fit the expectations of politicians. Soon, most likely, political opinion will intervene, the “master” will dictate and those bureaucrats will begin praising the great successes Big Brother has achieved in battling crime.
[HH] Judicial reform joke

This country is full of surprises. On the one hand, it is a country of ingenious deceptions. Is there any other country, for example, which has so effectively maintained a web of extraordinary courts despite all the pressures from the European Union?

For the past more than three decades, under many names, the “state security courts,” “specially authorized courts” or “expertise courts” – which they have now been converted to – have continued to destroy norms of justice in this country. Each time the government abrogates the powers of the much-criticized special courts, fools like this writer assume something great is being done and rejoice for a moment or so until they learn the bitter truth: that the great reform they assumed to have taken place was just an illusion.

Now, complaints have begun to arise that the “expertise courts” might be even worse than those they replaced, because they are more open to political manipulation.

July/11/2012

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