Unlawfulness becoming the new law in Turkey

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- The draft law on the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) which is currently being discussed by the Turkish Parliament is the latest in a series of unlawful regulations designed by the government following the major corruption and bribery investigation that became public on Dec. 17.
The controversial bill aims at expanding the power of MIT, while violating individuals’ basic rights by enabling it to acquire personal information from every state institution, including courts. Among other much-debated articles of the bill is that MIT will be able to make use of hardware from the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), if it is adopted. Meanwhile, legal immunity is provided for MIT to engage in a wide variety of practices. Prior to the MIT law, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government hastily drafted a law to restructure the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), which is a top judicial body regulating the personnel affairs of judges and prosecutors. After being signed into law in February, the HSYK law was partially annulled by the Constitutional Court last week for violating the Constitution because it introduced more government dominance, through the Ministry of Justice, over the judiciary.

Commentators have claimed since day one that the HSYK law was in clear violation of the Constitution and that it was going to be canceled by the Constitutional Court. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan slammed the Constitutional Court for its ruling, accusing the court members of interfering in politics. Both the MIT bill and the partly canceled HSYK law came right after the Dec. 17 police detentions, implicating high-profile figures and which led to four ministers leaving office as part of a graft probe.

Bugun daily columnist TarIk Toros described the ongoing unlawful practices in the country, saying “it has never been like this before.” According to Toros, the AK Party government has adopted a stance which declares every opponent a traitor, regards every single act by itself as legitimate and grants no right of existence to “others.” Toros then referred to a recently leaked phone conversation between Interior Minister Efkan Ala and Istanbul province Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu in which Ala is heard saying “there is no need for a warrant from a court, just break down the door and take that man [journalist Mehmet Baransu]. We can draft a new law and make sure what you do isn’t a crime. If the prosecutor [we ask to do this] objects, then take the prosecutor too.” Toros commented: “The day these sentences were uttered by the administration was the day this state fell apart.” The columnist reminded his readers of other examples of illegal practices such as Prime Minister ErdoIan saying “let them come and demolish it, if they can,” speaking against a court injunction issued about the new Prime Minister’s Office construction in a protected area in Ankara. Another example Toros named was ErdoIan’s remarks that “we can ban the ban,” about a court ruling banning a TV aert shot for the AK Party’s election campaign. “In addition, access to Twitter and YouTube were arbitrarily blocked in order to halt online circulation of corruption evidence. Because of all these, we are no longer living in a state of law,” said Toros.

Milliyet daily’s Mehmet Tezkan wrote in his Monday column that Prime Minister ErdoIan accuses every opposition voice of interfering in politics. According to Tezkan, ErdoIan’s attitude lies in his belief that democracy equals ballots. “ErdoIan thinks those who win elections have complete control, that nobody and no institution can argue with what he says. Even the top judicial body cannot. Laws cannot be annulled even if they breach the Constitution. According to him, the only constitutional body is an elected government,” Tezkan noted.

GuNAY HILAL AYGuN (CihanToday’s Zaman) C