Saturday, January 24, 2015

New barrier to prosecution of military personnel in Turkey

Here's what seems to be an ominous development. Hurriyet Daily News reports that military personnel will only be subject to civilian prosecution for offenses committed in connection with the fight against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) with the approval of the Prime Minister or the Defense Minister:
“Military persons, who fulfill duties or assigns duties due to duties designated in the Police Organization Act and Provincial Administration Act, and due to duties within the content of decisions made by parliament and Council of Ministers," will be subject to the new amendment adopted by parliament’s Justice Commission late on Jan. 22, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Accordingly, the prosecution of military persons for crimes that they have allegedly committed while fulfilling their duties will require consent from top officials, as such crimes are within the “jurisdiction of the civil judiciary,” the agency said.
In February 2014, parliament adopted a new Military Law stipulating that the prime minister’s consent would be obligatory for the prosecution of the chief of General Staff and commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Force regarding crimes alleged to have been committed while in office. The same law also required the interior minister’s consent for the prosecution of the general commander of the Gendarmerie.
In line with the new legislation, when adopted, the prosecution of other personnel of the TSK [Turkish Armed Forces] will be contingent on the consent of the defense minister.
This was already the case with the prosecution of officials of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), thanks to a bill also adopted in early 2014 that said the intelligence body would be able to contact all “structures that threaten national security, including terrorist organizations, in the course of its duty.”

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