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Turkey: Adoption of New Law Aimed at Ending Terrorism and Achieving Social Integration

(Aug. 15, 2014) On July 10, 2014, the Grand National Assembly (Turkey’s parliament) adopted the Law on Ending Terror and Strengthening Social Integration, in six articles. (Berk Çektir, Law on Social Unity Falls Short, TODAY’S ZAMAN (July 20, 2014).) The stated purpose of the Law is to implement solutions to regulate the procedures and principles for the process of ending terrorism and strengthening social integration. (Terörün Sona Erdirilmesi ve Toplumsal Bütünlesmenin Güçlendirilmesine dair Kanun [Law on Ending Terror and Strengthening Social Integration], Law No. 6551 (July 10, 2014), art. 1, RESMI GAZETE [Official Gazette], No. 29062 (July 16, 2014).)

Article 2 of the Law sets forth the general duties of the government in carrying out measures to implement, monitor, and coordinate the process. These include:

• determining the steps to be taken in political, legal, socio-economic, psychological, cultural, human rights, security, and disarmament fields and on related issues, in order to end terrorism and strengthen social integration;

• making decisions on such actions as contacting and opening a dialogue with domestic and foreign individuals, institutions, and organizations and appointing the individuals, organization, or institution that will perform this work;

• taking measures to ensure compliance on the part of members of an armed organization who give up their weapons and resume normal life;

• providing accurate and timely provision of information to the public on the measures taken under this Law;

• monitoring and ensuring coordination among relevant institutions engaged in the process; and

• doing the necessary legislative work. (Id. art. 2(1).) )

The details of this new “solution (or settlement) process” (çözüm süreç) to end terrorist activities and unify the society have reportedly not yet been made public. (Çektir, supra.)

The new Law authorizes the Council of Ministers (the Cabinet) to make the necessary decisions regarding the settlement process. (Terörün Sona Erdirilmesi ve Toplumsal Bütünlesmenin Güçlendirilmesine dair Kanun, art. 3(1).) The Undersecretariat of Public Order and Security is to coordinate the work done as part of the settlement process and related secretariat services. (Id. art. 3(2).)

The duties prescribed by the Law are to be carried out promptly by the responsible public institutions and organizations. (Id. art. 4(1).) The Law states that those who carry out the tasks assigned within the scope of this Law “shall have no civil, administrative or criminal liability concerning their performance.” (Id. art. 4(2); Çektir, supra.)

Background

According to the Preamble to the draft version of the Law, a National Unity and Fraternity Project had been launched in July 2009, opening room for debate in Turkey “that enabled the different segments of the society to confront their problems and formulate solutions.” (Draft Law, No. 31853594-101-995-2780, Hakikat Adalet Hafiza Merkezi [Truth Justice Memory Center] website (June 26, 2014).) In 2010, the Undersecretariat of Public Order and Security was established with the specific task of ensuring “good communication and coordination between the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and the National Police Department.” (New Public Order Body Criticized in Reyhanli Aftermath, TODAY’S ZAMAN (May 16, 2013); Candidate Names Touted To Lead New Public Safety Watchdog, TODAY’S ZAMAN (Mar. 5, 2010); Kamu Düzeni ve Güvenligi Müstesarliginin Teskilat ve Görevleri Hakkinda Kanun [Law on the Organization and Duties of the Undersecretariat of Public Order and Security], Law No. 5952 (Feb. 17, 2010), RESMI GAZETE, No. 27511 (Mar. 4, 2010).)

At the end of 2012, according to the draft’s Preamble, the solution process, characterized as “the process of excluding the violence and arms and including the statements, thought and politics instead” to achieve “a stronger, democratic, free, safe and peaceful Turkey,” was initiated as a state policy. (Draft Law, supra.) On April 9, 2013, the Grand National Assembly established a Parliamentary Investigation Committee on seeking ways of achieving a peaceful society and evaluating the solution process, whose work resulted in a final report on its findings and recommendations. (Id.)

The draft’s Preamble contends that the solution process had already resulted in a 19-month hiatus of bloodshed in the country and signs of normalization, as well as a “booming” economy and tourism, in the Eastern and Southeastern Anatolian regions of Turkey in particular. (Id.) In the view of one commentator, however, the law adopted is disappointing because it only offers limited steps to stem terrorism. In his view, “the law consists of just a couple of articles that only relate to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). In this law apparently the word ‘terrorism’ is used to address the disturbance in the southeastern and eastern provinces of Turkey but [terrorism] has been affecting the whole of Turkey for over 30 years.” (Çektir, supra.)

The commentator further notes that 2014 is the 30th anniversary of the pivotal 1984 terrorist attack in which a number of soldiers in a gendarmerie station in eastern Turkey were killed, resulting in the government’s first efforts to apply a label to such actions against the state. In the early 1980s, the PKK militia had been called an eskiya, a word “used for gangs who used to rob caravans,” while “the word ‘terrorism’ was used for people who hijacked planes and abducted people and was not used to describe the actions of PKK terrorism.” (Id.) Since that time, he comments, “there have been several laws made and several names, organizations and abbreviations used about this issue;” he acknowledges that categorizing a problem’s elements “is a big step towards solving the problem” but questions the value of continually changing the name of such elements for drawing closer to a solution. (Id.)