MIT law might share the fate of partially annulled HSYK law

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- A controversial draft law granting extraordinary powers to the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) was passed in Parliament on Thursday, raising concerns that Turkey will be turned into an “intelligence state” similar to Syria, whose al-Muhaberat agencies are claimed to be involved in unlawful activities and violations of the rights of individuals in order to protect the current government in the country.

With the new law, MIT will be able to access all information held by state institutions, including courts, which could lead to breaches of confidentiality in ongoing investigations. Apart from a great deal of additional powers, MIT has also been granted broad criminal immunity, which is also a highly controversial issue that came under the spotlight when Turkish gendarmerie forces reportedly found weapons and ammunition on seven Syria-bound trucks they stopped in the southern province of Adana in January.

Another concern raised by the new law is that Turkey may see an increase in the number of extrajudicial killings and unsolved murders, entering a phase similar to the 1990s, when the country was frequently shaken by these incidents, particularly in the southeast, a predominantly Kurdish area.

Haberturk daily columnist Muharrem SarIkaya wrote in his Friday piece that the Turkish state has a habit of hastily drafting laws, and that this habit is continuing with the new MIT law. According to SarIkaya, this is because the government never considers the possibility that it made a mistake when its laws are vetoed by the president or annulled by the Constitutional Court instead, government officials just attack those who canceled the regulation they drafted. “The government doesn’t even care about commission reports or the remarks of the president expressing that the law in question is in violation of the Constitution. I should say in aance that the same fate as the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) law [which was partially annulled by the Constitutional Court last week] will be suffered by the MIT law that was approved in Parliament yesterday.

SarIkaya pointed out that MIT law has been amended for the first time since 1984. The columnist emphasized that MIT officials will be granted a protective shield that even the prime minister and ministers do not have. Regarding the law’s recommendation that a parliamentary commission to supervise MIT activities be established, SarIkaya said that the same commission will also supervise the gendarmerie, the police force and the Finance Ministry’s Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK). “The Prime Minister’s Office will send its reports to the commission and reports by this commission will be considered ‘state secrets.’ This means Parliament will only be able to launch probes based on reports sent by the Prime Minister’s Office,” SarIkaya said.

In his Friday piece, Cuneyt Özdemir, a columnist for the Radikal daily, wrote that he has found a clue in the MIT law on who the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has decided to nominate in the upcoming presidential election. According to Özdemir, the fact that the new law enables the president to grant permission for the prosecution of top officials, including the head of MIT, indicates that the AK Party has already made up its mind to nominate ErdoIan, as ErdoIan would never let anyone other than himself have such power, he said.