Soldiers in terror fight will be given legal shield
A parliamentary commission has approved a key amendment making the consent of the prime minister or related minister obligatory for the prosecution of soldiers who commit alleged crimes in the course of engaging with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“Military persons, who fulfill duties or assigns duties due to duties designated in the Police Organization Act and Provincial Administration Act, and due to duties within the content of decisions made by parliament and Council of Ministers," will be subject to the new amendment adopted by parliament’s Justice Commission late on Jan. 22, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Accordingly, the prosecution of military persons for crimes that they have allegedly committed while fulfilling their duties will require consent from top officials, as such crimes are within the “jurisdiction of the civil judiciary,” the agency said.
In February 2014, parliament adopted a new Military Law stipulating that the prime minister’s consent would be obligatory for the prosecution of the chief of General Staff and commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Force regarding crimes alleged to have been committed while in office. The same law also required the interior minister’s consent for the prosecution of the general commander of the Gendarmerie.
In line with the new legislation, when adopted, the prosecution of other personnel of the TSK will be contingent on the consent of the defense minister.
This was already the case with the prosecution of officials of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), thanks to a bill also adopted in early 2014 that said the intelligence body would be able to contact all “structures that threaten national security, including terrorist organizations, in the course of its duty.”
All this legislation is considered to be part of an overall legal framework for the ongoing talks between intelligence officers and the PKK. News reports have previously suggested that TSK commanders were hesitant about the peace process due to concerns that they could be tried for not taking the required military action against the PKK during the course of talks.
In spring 2013, news reports said governor’s offices would be authorized to monitor TSK activity during the PKK’s planned withdrawal, since the militants were concerned about being attacked by military forces on their way out. Those reports followed a call for a cease-fire by jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who told thousands of his fighters to leave Turkey as part of the government-led peace process aimed at ending the three-decade-old conflict between security forces and the PKK.
Earlier this week, while briefing parliament’s Security and Intelligence Commission, the chief of the Undersecretariat of Public Order and Security, who is also involved in the peace process, said their institution had not been tasked with “operational security tasks.”
The institution is providing “intellectual and logistical support” to the process, Undersecretary Muhammed Dervişoğlu told members of the commission.
“The absence of an institution with a civilian perspective in Turkey’s more than three-decade-old fight against terror was a serious flaw,” Dervişoğlu said.
Kandil impatient about ‘timeline’
Meanwhile, a delegation from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has issued a warning over the peace process from the leaders of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), a supra-organization that includes the PKK, following a meeting at their headquarters in the Kandil Mountains of northern Iraq on Jan. 22.
In a written statement released on Jan. 23, the HDP delegation said they were all focused on the “draft negotiation framework” that is at the center of the peace process after being drawn up by Öcalan and shared with both the HDP and the PKK leadership in Kandil.
“We have set a timeline in order to prevent, yet again, stalling and deception,” senior PKK leader Cemil Bayık said, adding that they themselves would disclose Öcalan’s “Democratic Solution and Negotiation Draft” if the government failed to stick to the timeline.
Accusing the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of imposing practices that stalled the process, the KCK leaders said the government was "still not seriously approaching the negotiation process.”
They urged the government to “cease wasting time and carry the process to a permanent resolution.”