Parliament starts discussing ‘anti-terror bill’ amid opposition criticism
The Turkish Parliament has begun deliberations on a legislative bill that introduces new measures in the fight against terrorism in a bid not to create any deficiencies after lifting the state of emergency that has been in place since July 2016.
The 29-article bill that was submitted to parliament by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been endorsed at the relevant parliamentary commissions last week through a majority of votes from the AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
The proposal stipulates new measures in criminal and military laws that deal with security and judicial matters concerning the “struggle against terror” and is envisaged to be in force for the upcoming three years.
According to the bill, the maximum detention period of suspects who are accused of committing crimes against state integrity, organized crime and terrorist crimes, will be four days with an option to extend this period for two times, making it 12 days maximum if deemed necessary.
With the first state of emergency decree, the maximum detention period was regulated as 30 days without a hearing, which was later reduced to seven days with an option to extension, following criticisms.
With the bill, governors will be able to prohibit individuals from exiting and entering a defined area for 15 days on security grounds where the public order or safety has deteriorated or there are serious indications that will deteriorate in such a way that will stop or divert daily life. They will also be able to prohibit carrying and transporting all kinds of weapons and ammunition, even if they are licensed.
In addition, officials of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), police department, gendarmerie as well as public servant and workers can be dismissed if they were deemed as having affiliation with a terrorist organization. Those dismissed will not be employed again in the public service, or assigned directly or indirectly.
If a court rules for their return to duty, they will be collected in a “pool” and assigned to “research centers” under the Defense Ministry and Interior Ministry.
For three more years, the state will continue to appoint trustees for terrorism-related institutions and companies. Gun licenses and passports of those dismissed or those suspended from duty will be canceled. The Interior Ministry will be able to cancel the passports of their spouses as well.
The state of emergency, imposed in the wake of the July 2016 failed coup, widely believed to have been orchestrated by United States-based preacher Fethullah Gülen’s network, has been extended seven times in the last two years.
On July 18, the three month period of the last state of emergency rule has come to an end since it was not renewed by the cabinet.
CHP: This bill violates constitution
This bill violates the Turkish constitution and de facto makes the state of emergency a permanent one, according to the Republican People’s Party (CHP).
“This bill is a clear violation of the constitution. This bill will permanently instate the state of emergency at the expense of placing injustice and unlawfulness,” CHP deputy leader and spokesperson Bülent Tezcan said on July 23 at a press conference.
Tezcan recalled that the Turkish constitution stipulates four days as the maximum detention period but this law increases it up to 12 days in organized crimes and clearly violates the charter.
“This bill should be rejected in parliament. Otherwise, Turkey can never establish a healthy relationship with the contemporary world,” he said.
‘Aggravated emergency rule’
With the bill, the government will have the right to confiscate and appoint trustees to private companies for three years, Tezcan said, underlining that this is a very bad message for both foreign and national investors.
“This bill contradicts with the government’s statements on normalization. This is about making abnormal a permanent norm in Turkey,” he said.
İYİ (Good) Party Antalya MP Feridun Bahşi described the bill as “aggravated” emergency rule and a violation of fundamental freedoms and rights. “Our people were waiting hopefully for emergency rule to be lifted. But this bill re-instates it in a more grave way for three years,” he said. The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) stood against the bill as well.
AKP refutes criticisms
AKP deputy parliamentary group leader Bülent Turan refuted the CHP’s claims that this bill constitutes permanent emergency rule, calling all parties to endorse it in the name of the fight against terrorism.
“This bill is penned to provide continued security for the Turkish people. It is not right to call it an extension of emergency rule,” Turan said in parliament. Along with the AKP, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) announced its support for the bill.