Charter drafting begins with rights and freedoms

Charter drafting begins with rights and freedoms

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Charter drafting begins with rights and freedoms

Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek (R) and constutition commission member Sırrı Süreyya Önder (L) honored those who contributed into the process of the new charter. AA photo

The knotty process of drafting the new Turkish Constitution officially began Thursday, with a section on fundamental rights and freedoms. Each political party pressed for its own priorities, including the protection of secularism, the right to education in one’s mother tongue and the right to conscientious objector status.

“A productive and positive process has begun,” Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek told reporters after the first meeting of the Constitution Conciliation Commission in the second stage of the constitution-drafting process. “We hope we are making a good start,” he said, adding that the first chapter discussed will deal with fundamental rights and freedoms.

On the first day of the second stage of the process, which is scheduled to be completed at the end of July, the commission decided to establish a sub-commission that would set the principles of the writing process. “They will also make a catalog of fundamental rights and freedoms from the lists we have provided them with. It’s a technical issue. They will decide which rights and freedoms should be listed under which article,” Çiçek said.


The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) suggested a redefinition of secularism under the article dealing with “freedom of faith and conscience,” in a move to avoid the exploitation of this principle, according to information gathered by the Hürriyet Daily News.

“The uncertainty over secularism should be removed. We should all be able to be clear what we all mean by ‘secularism,’” the CHP’s Atilla Kart said. “The state’s order should not be based on religious order. The state should provide a pluralistic climate based on faith and should be tasked with preventing religious pressure.” Other parties did not object to the idea.

The party also demanded greater clarity about the conditions under which fundamental human rights and freedoms could be limited, in order to prevent arbitrary moves to do so.

Priorities put forward by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) include the right to education in one’s mother tongue, protection of the security and integrity of human lives, the right to conscientious objector status, the right to access water and food, and the protection of nature. It also demanded the right to same-sex marriage, gender equality and the guaranteed removal of pressure on people of any sexual identity.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) prioritized the freedom of faith, the protection of human dignity, and the protection of family life.

The sub-commission consists of four representatives from the four political parties and one advisor they nominate. It will work until Wednesday to prepare a report outlining the system by which the constitution will be written. Çiçek said the commission was planning to visit the leaders of the political parties in coming weeks.