Charter draft discussions commences with transparency debates

Charter draft discussions commences with transparency debates

Charter draft discussions commences with transparency debates

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Lawmakers in parliament’s constitutional committee have demanded visual media, representatives from non-governmental organizations and academics to be present in the charter draft debate as the panel commences with discomfort over the physical inconveniences of the room that left many lawmakers unable to find a seat.

“Within these conditions, it is impossible for us to make the charter debate in this room,” Bülent Tezcan the Republican People’s Party Deputy (CHP) group chairman said on Dec. 20 in the parliamentary constitutional committee meeting which was set to begin to debate the constitutional charter.

“We do not consider this issue a simple one. The lawmakers are not seated while the future of the public, the future of our own positions are being debated,” Tezcan said, demanding the chair of the commission, Mustafa Şentop, move the commission meeting to another room since the number of lawmakers who would like to participate in the debate exceeded the capacity of the room.

Şentop denied the demand, saying that the room was convenient to hold the debate and that the advisors and the press should leave the salon to make room for the discussion.

The lawmakers expressed their opposition, opening a discussion about the importance of transparency while debating the constitution. 

“This issue is not something that can be done just under this roof behind closed doors. This issue not only concerns the parliament; it also concerns the entire public. It is an issue of sovereignty of 78 million people,” Tezcan added, reiterating his party’s criticism to the charter for paving the way for an authoritarian regime.

“Our friends will struggle against this charter which demolishes the republic for months, or years, if necessary,” Nurhayat Altaca, a CHP lawmaker said, adding that the visual media should also be present in the panel.

“The public should know what is discussed at least in the proposal stage. I think the visual press should definitely be present,” she added.

Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) lawmakers also demanded a bigger place to make room for non-governmental organizations and academics as well as the press to be able to follow the discussions.

“The constitution is a social contract that can only be amended by social agreement. In order to do that, convenient physical conditions should be provided. A constitutional charter cannot be debated under circumstances where a lawmaker is not seated and where the press are not allowed in,” Filiz Kerestecioğlu, the HDP’s parliamentary group deputy chairperson, added, opening a debate about the transparency of the charter discussions.

“The constitutional amendment is not something that only lawmakers would do. It can only be done by debating transparently,” Kerestecioğlu added.

“It cannot be hidden from the press, from public. It should be debated in front of the public,” she added.

Şentop rejected the demands, saying the conditions of the constitutional committee debates were governed by internal regulations and that he was entitled to follow the bylaw.

The committee officially has 45 days to discuss the charter and issue a report to parliament.