Turkish justice minister defends new judicial package, citing ECHR criteria
Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin (C) opens Ulu Mosque in the southeastern province of Hatay as Gov Mehmet Celalettin Lekesiz (R) accompanies him. ‘We have created a practice in line with the European Court of Human Rights criteria. The complainants should obey ECHR standards,’ Minister Ergin says. AA photo
Underlining that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) resolutions were the basis of the fourth judicial package, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin has refuted criticism of the package March 8 and called on people to obey the ECHR instead of complaining about the content of the package.
“Instead of complaining, they should adjust their actions to the standards of the European Court of Human Rights. We have taken steps in a way that would have the universal standards match with our regulations’ structure. We have created a practice in line with the ECHR criteria. The complainants should obey ECHR standards,” Ergin said in an interview with NTV news channel about the package, which was sent to Parliament on March 7.
Minor improvement: CHP
At Parliament during the same hours, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Akif Hamzaçebi said the package has made a very minor improvement in regards to violations of human rights.
Although narrowing the scope of propaganda crime, the package does not contain any arrangement that would compensate for human rights violations in the Ergenekon and Balyoz coup conspiracy trials as well as in trials concerning the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Hamzaçebi said.
“This study has been prepared to solve systematic problems, but not specific problems. Article 314 [of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK)] is an article about founding an armed terror organization. Everybody can make subjective assessments but these assessments would be binding only for themselves. What we heeded was the ECHR process, the ECHR case laws and the ECHR conventions,” Ergin said.
Although amending Articles 6 and 7 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) and Article 220/8 of the TCK – which are all related to creating propaganda for terrorism and terror organizations – in a way that limits the scope of propaganda crime, the package hasn’t brought any changes to Article 314 and thus made no improvements to the situation of KCK convicts in particular.
Despite being named the “Bill on Amending Some Laws within the Context of Human Rights and Freedom of Expression,” the package is not sufficient in providing freedom of expression, Hamzaçebi said.
“The ‘freedom of expression’ that is in the name of the package should also be put in the package itself,” he said.