Turkish gov’t bypassing Parliament’s EU panel in launch of security bill: CHP

Turkish gov’t bypassing Parliament’s EU panel in launch of security bill: CHP

Turkish gov’t bypassing Parliament’s EU panel in launch of security bill: CHP

Concerns are rising that Turkey is on the path to becoming a police state.

The Turkish government has repeatedly argued that a controversial bill outlining the further empowerment of security forces was drafted in line with the European Union acquis, but the main opposition has claimed the government skipped a review of the bill by Parliament’s EU Harmonization Commission.

Six lawmakers from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), who are all members of the EU Harmonization Commission, sent a joint letter to Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek on Oct. 17 to ask him to take an initiative to reverse such “incorrect practices.”

The deputies argued that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been dealing with legislation of fundamental rights and freedoms as if it has been dealing with a “jigsaw puzzle” and “according to the government’s own daily needs.”

“Both the prime minister and the government has been seeking legitimacy for the bill by citing authorities of the police in Germany as a reference, but by ignoring all legal norms that balance these authorities,” the letter said.

The deputies noted with regret that despite such efforts in the quest for legitimacy, the government had yet to present the bill to the EU Harmonization Commission for its views, arguing that this approach would lead to “huge flaws and incorrect practices.”

Parliament’s Justice Commission was originally scheduled on Oct. 15 to begin debates on the bill, which was introduced to Parliament late Oct. 14. The debate has been postponed until Oct. 21.

Certain “preemptive” measures in the bill such as paving the way for a search warrant on the basis of mere “reasonable doubt” and without any concrete evidence immediately rang alarm bells, leading to concerns that the bill would turn Turkey into a police state.

The CHP deputies highlighted that the commission’s president, Mehmet Tekelioğlu of the AKP, believed that all criminal code legislation should be reviewed by the commission. However, the government reportedly bypassed it.

“We consider this an open intervention into the functioning of the legislative body; and we want to bring to your attention to the fact that such an absence of our commission’s review of a legislation – through which there are attempts to roll back fundamental rights and freedoms – in regards to its harmony with the EU norms, with an excuse such as ‘urgent needs,’ will constitute a huge contradiction and that this will be a subject for new criticisms from the EU,” the deputies said, asking for Çiçek to intervene on the issue.