Venice Commission visits Turkey for charter amendment opinion

Venice Commission visits Turkey for charter amendment opinion

Venice Commission visits Turkey for charter amendment opinion A delegation of the Venice Commission, headed by Honorary President Hanna Suchocka, has arrived in Turkey to hold talks with Turkish authorities on the recent constitutional amendments.  

The visit is conducted within the framework of the preparation of an opinion on the constitutional amendments requested by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

The draft opinion of the delegation will be discussed by the Venice Commission in plenary in March 2017.

The delegation on Feb. 21 visited Turkish Bar Association head Metin Feyzioğlu.  He said Turkey was in the process of a major constitutional amendment and that the commission’s visit will give them support, according to a press statement from the bar. He noted that the referendum is about whether Turkey would continue its path as a democratic state.

He said the bar is an institution responsible for protecting the supremacy of human rights and law, informing the public and fighting against violations. He told the delegation that the issue regarding constitutional amendments was a partisan issue, according to the statement.

“If the judges are connected to the president’s authority, we will not be able to practice law in real terms,” he told the delegation.

No one asked the opinions of the bar associations, Feyzioğlu replied to Suchocka after she asked whether the bar associations were included in the constitutional amendment process, the statement said. 

“We had our initiatives, we sent letters to MPs. We are currently working on our social media accounts,” he said.

The Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) also decided to request the Venice Commission’s opinion on the draft law regarding amendments to the constitution, which is due to be voted on in Turkey in a referendum in early April. The Venice Commission is expected to focus on the extent to which the principle of separation of powers is preserved and whether the new system will introduce effective checks and balances, though its report is not expected to be ready before mid-March.

The commission had earlier visited the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in parliament on Feb. 20. 

The Venice Commission, which is the constitutional consultative body of the Council of Europe, visited Turkey on Feb. 6 to investigate the current embattled state of media freedom under the ongoing state of emergency.