Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner urges Turkey to reconsider security bill
AFP PhotoWith the Turkish parliament expected to begin discussing the government’s controversial new security bill this week, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks has expressed his concerns and urged parliament to reconsider the bill, in a statement released on the commission’s official Facebook page on Feb. 6.
“The proposed bill seems to increase the powers of the police without reinforcing the necessary independent control over its actions. I think in particular that any widening of the powers of the police to use firearms, to use force during demonstrations, to stop and check, or to apprehend suspects at their own initiative without judicial authorization would bear the risk of increasing the likelihood of human rights violations with respect to the right to life, to freedom of assembly and to respect for private life,” Muižnieks wrote in the statement, also referring to his last report on Turkey in November 2013, written after the Gezi Park protests in the summer of 2013.
He urged the Turkish parliament to reconsider the new proposal “in light of the relevant international standards,” as well as the country’s own human rights bodies, in order to improve the Turkish police’s human rights record.
Debates over the contentious security bill have recently triggered a bitter war of words between the ruling and the opposition parties. Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu described the law as a “clear provocation” on Feb. 5, in response to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s claim that Kılıçdaroğlu is a “provocateur” rather than a political leader.
“If you want to punish those who use weapons with a one-year sentence and those who use slings with two years, then you would be provoking the people and that would not be right. Eavesdropping on people and detaining people without a court decision are also wrong,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, referring to the scope of the bill.
Discussions on “the draft law changing various articles of the Law on the Powers and Duties of the Police, the Laws on Gendarmerie Organization, Duties and Authorities, the Law on Population Services and Some Laws and Some Statutory Decrees,” had been scheduled to begin on Feb. 4. However, due to the extension of debates on the draft mining law to Feb. 4, the government decided to push back debates on the security bill to this week. The first debates are planned for Feb. 10.