Mother tongue draft to be in Parliament

Mother tongue draft to be in Parliament

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
A legal arrangement paving the way for suspects to use their mother tongue in court defenses will be debated in Parliament Jan. 22, a deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) announced yesterday.

If debates over the proposal are not finalized between Jan. 23 and 24, within the working days of Parliament’s General Assembly, then the assembly will be required to work Jan. 25 and 26, the AKP’s deputy parliamentary group chair, Mahir Ünal said.

The arrangement is part of a 13-article amendment proposal to the Criminal Procedure Code (CMK) and to the Law on Execution of Penalties and Security Precautions. The proposal also outlines a chance for married prisoners to conduct conjugal visits with their spouses without the presence of prison staff from anywhere between three to 24 hours once every three months.

In the fall of 2012, over 700 inmates staged a 69-day-hunger strike in several Turkish prisons, demanding an end to the isolation of the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Abdullah Öcalan. Hunger strikers also called for an end to restrictions against the use of Kurdish in courts and in the educational system. The legal case against the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban wing of the PKK, has been deadlocked as courts have rejected defendants’ demands to speak Kurdish when giving their defense.

Inmates ended their hunger strike after Öcalan issued a plea Nov. 17, a week after the government submitted the legal arrangement to Parliament. Nonetheless, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at the time that the move should not be considered a concession to strikers, noting that the AKP had promised this right during their party congress on Sept. 30. Some analysts and reports say the ongoing process involving officials in talks with Öcalan for the purpose of drawing an end to the conflict between security forces and the PKK actually began after Öcalan called on hundreds of PKK inmates to end their hunger strike.