Turkish PM Davutoğlu joins justification of gag order on graft inquiry

Turkish PM Davutoğlu joins justification of gag order on graft inquiry

Turkish PM Davutoğlu joins justification of gag order on graft inquiry

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. AA Photo

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is "in line with his Cabinet" regarding the controversial publication ban on proceedings at a parliamentary corruption commission, arguing that the commission’s work should not be considered a routine parliamentary activity as it is “a part of the judicial process.”

“The opinion of the government and of myself, personally, on the issue of transparency and our stance against the imposition of a ban has been open and clear. Since 2002, our governments have acted on the principle of fighting against corruption, bans and poverty. We will act on these principles from now on too,” Davutoğlu said on Nov. 28, referring to the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) previous motto of fighting against the “3 Ys”, – corruption (“yolsuzluk” in Turkish), poverty (“yoksulluk” in Turkish) and bans (“yasaklar” in Turkish).

“But I will say specifically with regard to this issue: What the investigation commission has been fulfilling is a judicial assignment. It is dependent upon rules to which judicial processes are bound. This decision-making process has nothing to do with our government,” he added, urging "everybody to be patient" regarding the commission’s work.

Separate appeals were filed to a higher court by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies for a lifting of the ban, on the grounds that the request for a gag order and the ban itself were against the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as the Turkish Constitution, the Press Law and Parliament’s Internal Regulations. However, the appeals were collectively rejected by a penal court of peace in Ankara.

The ban originated when the parliamentary commission tasked with the inquiry filed a request for to the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office on Nov. 21, asking for a ban that will last until Dec. 27. The ban was approved and announced late on Nov. 25.

Parliament decided to establish an investigative commission to probe former ministers Erdoğan Bayraktar, Egemen Bağış, Zafer Çağlayan and Muammer Güler in May, after deliberations between political parties.

The four ministers resigned from the Cabinet after a huge graft operation highlighted their relations with shady Iranian-origin businessman Reza Zarrab, who had allegedly paid them a number of bribes over the last few years. Along with Zarrab, former Halkbank chief executive Süleyman Aslan is among the suspects of the corruption probe.

The CHP filed an appeal to the Parliament Speaker’s Office on Nov. 28 to remove the chair of the parliamentary commission tasked with the inquiry, Hakkı Köylü of the AKP, who submitted the request for the ban.

The CHP’s appeal relied on an article in Parliament’s internal regulations, arguing that all lawmakers who have publicly expressed an opinion about a particular controversy cannot be a member of an inquiry commission into it.