Turkish Government works on legal reform for Kurdish solution

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News – 18.6.2013 – The Turkish government has started working on a package of legal steps to be submitted to Parliament in the context of an initiative to find a political solution to the country’s painful Kurdish issue, a Justice Ministry source who asked not to be named told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.

The high-level source also said that the work had been carried out on the basis of a plan submitted by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) to Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin on June 10, and that the draft is expected to be ready to be submitted to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in two to three weeks’ time. “That will start the second phase of the process,” the official said. “Following the completion of the pull-back of militants.”

Anti-terror law

The latest contact between BDP co-chairman Selahattin Demirtaş and another parliamentary deputy, Pervin Buldanlı, was established on June 7, only three days before the delegation’s visit to Ergin to present their plan for the legal steps to be taken. A draft reform plan submitted by the BDP stipulated the complete removal of the existing anti-terror law on the basis that the content of the Penal Code was sufficient to punish a terror crime.

The draft also envisages amendments on several articles of the Penal Code, including on how to punish the promotion of the guilty and crime as well as the establishment of a criminal organization. The draft also touches on demands to change some articles of the Code of the Criminal Procedure with special emphasis on detention and arrest procedures. It also seeks to reduce the election threshold from the current 10 percent to 3 percent and amendments to the Law on Political Parties. The Law on Police Powers is also sought to be amended according to the BDP’s draft.

The government and the BDP will continue to work on this proposed reform package, sources said, adding that it would take some time to finalize it. The government will not recess on July 1 if the government decides to bring the package to Parliament this summer.

The BDP contributed to an international conference on the Kurdish problem in Diyarbakır in southeast Turkey, held June 15 and 16, after which a 13-point declaration was made. The release of Öcalan from prison is considered one of the most important demands, as he plays the most prominent role in this process. A status to be determined for “Kurdistan” by the free will of the Kurdish people is also listed on the top of the declaration, followed by the completion of a contemporary Constitution that will recognize Kurdish as an official language along with Turkish and recognize the right to mother tongue education.