Draft proposes legal shield for Turkish soldiers in anti-terror fight

Draft proposes legal shield for Turkish soldiers in anti-terror fight

Draft proposes legal shield for Turkish soldiers in anti-terror fight A draft proposal to provide legal protection to soldiers involved in security operations against groups listed as terrorist organizations was presented to the Turkish Parliament on June 7. The proposal also includes a raft of measures increasing the authority of all soldiers participating in anti-terror operations. 

The investigation and trial processes of commanders and the chief of general staff will require the prime minister’s permission, according to the draft proposal.

The permission mechanism will be carried out in accordance with the rank of the personnel, according to the main framework. The local district governor’s permission will be needed in investigations into public personnel and soldiers on duty in various districts.

The draft proposal, which has been prepared by the Defense Ministry, will allow for the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) to participate in operations in central provinces, with a proposal from the Interior Ministry and a decision from the cabinet.

With the proposal, the rules of Turkish Penal Code on the adjournment of jail sentences will be applied to military offences. 

The governors will perform coordination, cooperation and surveillance if TSK personnel are assigned in the districts. The senior commander in the military unit will be in charge of the command, dispatch and administration. 

Soldiers will be permitted to enter residences in order to provide safety of life and property or apprehend certain people with the written order of the commander. The decision of the unit’s commander will be presented for the judge’s approval within 24 hours. 

Apprehension, detention or arrest will not be able to be carried out for military personnel due to an accusation until permission for an investigation is granted. Alleged crimes committed during operations will be regarded as military offences and a civil trial will not take place. 

A similar judicial shield was also previously granted to National Intelligence Organization (MİT) personnel, with the Prime Ministry granted authority to halt all investigations into MİT officials. 

MİT Chief Hakan Fidan was among the names from the MİT who was shielded from investigation by the Prime Ministry. 

The latest draft comes at a time when the European Union wants Turkey to change its anti-terror law as a prerequisite for granting visa-free travel to Turkish citizens in accordance with the Turkey-EU agreement.

Turkey has fulfilled 69 of the 72 criteria required by the EU, which stresses that the remaining three must also be met. 

Ankara has said it will not make demanded changes on the issue at a time when terrorist groups have been hitting Turkish targets, and has threatened to cease implementation of the migrant deal. 

“Telling us to change our anti-terror law at a time when we are fighting both the [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK and Daesh [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)] amounts to supporting terrorism. We will never give in to such impositions,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu vowed on May 16.

Anti-terror raids have been carried out in recent weeks across Turkey, including in Istanbul and in İzmir, against outlawed groups including ISIL, the PKK and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C), with many detentions taking place.