Turkish police to have wider latitude to conduct searches
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Turkish police will have wider latitude to conduct searches, and the government will have greater control over the judiciary, under a bill passed late by the country’s parliament, the New York Times reported.
The legislation will allow the police to obtain search warrants based merely on “reasonable suspicion,” rather than requiring “a strong suspicion based on concrete evidence,” the former standard. The country’s courts will have broader powers to seize the assets of people under investigation, including thoseuspected of “disrupting constitutional order.”
Critics say the bill can easily be used by the government to persecute political opponents.
The bill relaxes constraints that were imposed on the police this year as part of Turkey’s drive to harmonize its laws with those of the European Union, which it had hoped to join.
“The government seems to be intent on reversing its own much-needed reforms to control the powers of search and wiretapping,” Emma Sinclair-Webb, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “This new law risks a return to the abusive policing practices of the past.”
The new legislation, according to the NYT, includes a sweeping overhaul of the judicial system that analysts say will reduce some of the powers of the country’s top two courts, the Court of Appeals and the Council of State. For example, the Court of Appeals will no longer be able to veto decisions about which judge hears which case. The body that makes case assignments, the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors, is composed mainly of judges deemed to be close to the government.
Analysts say that the new legislation raises concerns about the future of the rule of law in Turkey. Serkan Yolcu, a research assistant at Celal Bayar University, said that “dropping doubt on the judiciary, and playing with its institutions and rules like a puzzle, is the important problem.”
Proponents of the bill said it was necessary to maintain order after violence broke out at political demonstrations this fall, leaving nearly 40 people dead. But critics of the government say it is the latest step in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s power struggle with Fethullah Gulen, an influential Muslim cleric who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania and has many followers and sympathizers in important positions in the police and judiciary.
Last year, Erdogan accused Gulen and his followers of orchestrating a graft investigation that implicated members of the president’s inner circle.
The main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party, known by its Turkish abbreviation C.H.P., has called the bill a violation of basic rights and said it would petition the country’s constitutional court to annul it.
“The bill has nothing to do with countering violence,” said Akif Hamzacebi, the deputy leader of the party’s parliamentary bloc. “On the contrary, it represses democracy, rights and freedoms, and deprives society of the right to make opposition.”
Edited by onjig, 04 December 2014 - 05:45 PM.