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RIGHTS >New security bill may result in draconian social media measures

Oya Armutçu Ankara

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The “domestic security package” that the government is expected to submit to Parliament in the coming days may introduce unprecedented new measures on social media, including special prison sentences for Internet users who call for protests, government sources have told Hürriyet.

The bill, which is still yet to be finalized, is expected to add “calls to action” on social media as a crime to the Turkish Penal Law (TCK) for the first time. 

If the bill is approved in its current form, not only “calls for violence, terror or hate speech” but also calls to “close businesses in protest” will carry heavier sentences.

The new legislation is also expected to reintroduce a controversial law that was overturned by the Constitutional Court on Oct. 2. The law gave Turkey’s Telecommunications Directorate’s (TİB) the authority to close websites within four hours on the basis of national security, protecting public order, or preventing crime. 

The government says the latest bill is necessary to improve domestic security in line with the European Union norms, following recent violent protests against jihadist attacks on the Kurdish-populated Syrian town of Kobane near the Turkish border.

According to the draft legislation, those involved in violent protests will face longer jail sentences and those protesting with their faces covered will be viewed as “potential criminals.” The police will be given the authority to hold suspects under detention for 24 hours, while a prosecutor’s consent is required under the existing legislation. A prosecutor will be able to extend the detention by 48 hours according to the new legislation.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Akif Hamzaçebi described the Kobane protests as a “pretext” for the government to pass repressive measures. “The violent acts during the demonstrations for Kobane are just a pretext for the government. Their ulterior motive is to prevent liberal street movements like the Gezi Park protests,” Hamzaçebi said on Oct. 22 in an interview with private broadcaster NTV.

October/23/2014

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