Turkey’s nationalist opposition lends full support to legal shield for soldiers in anti-terror fight

Turkey’s nationalist opposition lends full support to legal shield for soldiers in anti-terror fight

Turkey’s nationalist opposition lends full support to legal shield for soldiers in anti-terror fight

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Turkey’s nationalist opposition party has lent its support to a ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government-led bill to provide legal protection to soldiers involved in security operations against groups listed as terrorist organizations.

“We know the mistakes of the AKP. We have our finger on the pulse of the shortcomings and neglect in practice and to date,” Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli said on June 8.

“However, no one should expect the Nationalist Movement Party to compromise on its devoted and liable politics in relation to the particularity of connecting the Turkish nation’s security and national perpetuity to solid principals,” he said.

“We always stand by and are behind our security forces and the state on the issue of fighting against terrorism. In this context, we will definitely support the draft law concerning amendments into the Turkish Armed Forces [TSK] personnel code and some [other] laws and we will do whatever it requires unerringly. Thus, what it means is that our de facto support is able to reach a legal dimension. Most particularly, I would like everyone to rest assured and be at ease that we will do our best to strengthen the Turkish soldier’s hand in fighting terrorism and further enlarge the legal assurance that they need,” added Bahçeli.

The draft which the MHP leader declared full support for was presented to the Turkish parliament on June 7. The proposal also includes a raft of measures to increase 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 was prepared by the Defense Ministry, will allow for the 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 the Turkish Penal Code on the adjournment of jail sentences will be applied to military offences. 

Governors will perform coordination, cooperation and surveillance if TSK personnel are assigned in their 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 a written order from their commander. The decision of the unit’s commander will be presented for judicial approval within 24 hours. 

Apprehensions, detentions or arrests 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 granting authority to halt all investigations to 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 the demanded changes 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 the Aegean province of İzmir, against outlawed groups including ISIL, the PKK and the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C), with many detentions taking place.