TESEV report: Turkey’s army, police, MİT need reform

7 May 2013 /TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL – A recent report from the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) Democratization Program has said that the Turkish army, police and intelligence organization are in need of reform.

Detailing the problems regarding these entities in terms of accountability and civilian-democratic supervision, the report, prepared by İstanbul University political science professor Biriz Berksoy, also provides the foundation’s insight as to possible solutions.

It is stated in the report that the army still preserves its power to influence the civilian authority — albeit much less so compared with the past. According to the report, the civilian government has limited control of the army, particularly on its budget and policy-making process. The presence of a military judiciary is another problem — and the report said it brings human rights violations. It also suggested that there should be tighter civilian supervision of the army, and the military judiciary must be removed. It stated that compulsory military service must also be abolished and the training provided by the army should be checked by civilian authorities.Concerning the problems of the police, TESEV said the strategies employed in the early 2000s by the police to prevent crimes from occurring could end up reducing every individual into a potential criminal. The extensive discretion given to the police has also led to a disproportional use of force on individuals and groups. The report stated that human rights violations committed by the police go without punishment, and there is still no independent or well-functioning institution to oversee the actions of police officers. Among its recommendations, TESEV suggested that the aforementioned strategies should no longer be in effect, and the riot police’s right to use force must be removed. An independent civilian body should be able to oversee the police force’s adjustment to human rights.

TESEV also criticized the National Intelligence Organization’s (MİT) way of operation. The report said the authorities and power of MİT are too extensive and lead to human rights violations as well, paving the way for violating the confidentiality of personal data. The report concluded that the current government — as well as others to follow it — needs to carry out reforms to prevent human rights violations at the hands of these security institutions. The political will, the report suggests, should be determined to spread the understanding of democracy to society and penalize every public worker, including security officers, who violates human rights. TESEV suggested laws that protect MİT authorities be replaced with laws that limit its authority.