Constitution panel begins debating judiciary section

Constitution panel begins debating judiciary section

Constitution panel begins debating judiciary section

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Parliament’s Constitution Reconciliation Commission has begun discussing the draft Constitution’s critical judicial section, during which tough negotiations are expected to take place.

During the first session of discussion on March 12, a disagreement erupted as the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) insisted a clause that says “no questions shall be asked, debates held, or statements made at the Parliament relating to the exercise of judicial power concerning a case under trial,” should be kept as the same in the new Constitution, while ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as well as Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) argued that this clause was not necessary.

The AKP’s outline for overhauling the judiciary sparked a controversy when the party submitted its proposal to the panel last month. The proposal suggests the annulment of the Council of State and the Supreme Court of Appeals, and the establishment of a “Court of Cassation” to function in place of these two courts. According to the proposal, the president will elect seven members to the 22-seat Judges and Prosecutors Board; eight members of the 17-seat Constitutional Court; and a quarter of the members of the “Court of Cassation,” the yet-to-be-established body.

Meanwhile, during a closed-door session of the CHP’s parliamentary group meeting on March 12, the constitution drafting process was reportedly discussed. CHP’s commission member Atilla Kart suggested that the AKP’s presidential system proposal is “a presidential system toward Hitler,” and indicated that the constitution drafting process as well as the BDP was being used by the ruling party for creating an illusion of being a peace process.

Another panel member from the CHP, Sühey Batum, implied that the CHP should be able to leave the table while the new constitution is being debated with the leader of a terrorist organization. Batum reportedly said that the CHP can do what’s necessary during this worrisome process, arguing that the AKP is negotiating the new constitution with the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan.