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Turkey: New Emergency Decree Laws Issued

(May 11, 2017) On April 29, 2017, Turkey published two new emergency decree-laws, numbers 689 and 690, in the country’s Official Gazette, bringing the total number of such laws issued since the failed coup attempt in July 2016 to 24.  (Ashley Hogan, Turkey Removes 3900 from Civil Service Positions on Alleged Terrorist Links, PAPER CHASE (Apr. 30, 2017); Factsheet State of Emergency in Turkey, BIANET (Feb. 23, 2017) (a detailed study of decree-laws issued through Jan. 2017).) The new laws were adopted by the Cabinet, convened under President Tayyip Erdogan, on April 17, 2017.  (Decree Law on the Taking of Some Measures in the Context of the State of Emergency (DL 689), KHK No. 689, RESMI GAZETE, No. 30052 (Apr. 29, 2017) (in Turkish); Decree Law on the Implementation of Certain Measures Under the State of Emergency (DL 690), KHK No. 690, RESMI GAZETE, No. 30052 (Apr. 29, 2017).)

Background

On April 18, two days after the approval of a referendum to expand the powers of the president, the Grand National Assembly, Turkey’s parliament, extended the country’s nine-month state of emergency by another three months, to begin on April 19, 2017. (Decision on Extending the State of Emergency, Karar [Decision] No. 1139, RESMI GAZETE [OFFICIAL GAZETTE], No. 30042 (Apr. 18, 2017) (in Turkish).)

A few days before the decree-laws were issued, moreover, on April 26, in “the second large-scale purge since the narrow victory of a 16 April referendum giving President Tayyip Erdogan sweeping powers,” more than“9,000 police personnel were suspended and another 1,000 detained for alleged links to the cleric Fethullah Gulen,” who is regarded by the government as the motivating force behind the failed coup.  (Turkish Authorities Expel More Than 3,900 from Civil Service in Latest Purge, MEE [Middle East Eye] (last updated May 1, 2017).)  An announcement on the General Directorate of Security website put the number of fired police officers at 9,103 and also cited ties to Gulen as the reason for the action. (26.04.2017, General Directorate of Security website (last visited May 8, 2017) (in Turkish); List of Policemen Revealed (26 April 2017), ΚΑRΑR (in Turkish).)  BBC News reported that in addition to the 1,009 persons detained on April 26, “arrest warrants were issued for another 3,224 people, as part of a police operation across Turkey’s 81 provinces.”  (Turkey Suspends More than 9,000 Police Officers over ‘Gulen Links,’ BBC NEWS (Apr. 27, 2017).)

Decree Law 689

DL 689 is in seven articles and has five appended lists.  It includes measures on: civil servants to be removed from office (art. 1 & List 1); civil servants to be removed from lists included with previous decrees that had mandated their dismissal (art. 2 & List 2, with names of 236 persons to be reinstituted); institutions and organizations to be closed on grounds of being terrorist organizations or a threat to national security (art. 3(1) and List 3, with 47 closures: 14 associations, 1 newspaper, 1 magazine, 13 healthcare establishments, & 18 foundations); institutions and organizations to be re-opened after having been closed under the provisions of previous decree-laws (art. 3(3) & List 4, with five associations); and dismissal from their special status of students studying abroad found to belong to or be in contact with groups active against the national security of the state or terrorist organizations (art. 4 & List 5, with 59 students).  (DL 689.)

Under DL 689, 3,940 persons were dismissed from the civil service (including 201 from the Ministry of Religious Affairs; 1,127 from the Ministry of Justice and related institutions, some of whom were prison guards and clerks; and 216 from the Ministry of Health and related organizations); the military (478 from the Land Forces Command of the Ministry of National Defense, 447 from the Air Force Command, and 141 from the Naval Forces Command); and academia (484 persons).  (Id., List 1.)

It may be noted that Decree Law 688 (DL 688), published on March 29, 2017, also provided for the listing of certain personnel on some previous Decree Law lists on removals and dismissals to cease to be valid from the date of publication of the given Decree Law, and for such personnel to be paid pursuant to their financial and social rights from the date they were removed from office up to the date they assume a new position.  However, these personnel cannot claim any compensation because of their having been removed from public service, DL 688 states.  (Decree Law on the Taking of Some Measures Within the Scope of the State of Emergency, KHK 688, RESMI GAZETE, No. 30022 (Mar. 29, 2017) (in Turkish).) The list attached to DL 688 has 416 names.  (Id.)

Decree Law 690

Decree-Law 690 (DL 690) is “package” or omnibus legislation in 77 articles; it amends a number of laws, including the earlier emergency Decree-Law No. 685.  (Decree Law on the Implementation of Certain Measures Under the State of Emergency, KHK No. 690, RESMI GAZETE, No. 30052 (Apr. 29, 2017).) The seven chapters of the law cover measures on the judiciary, national defense, domestic security, social security measures, the Commission on Examination of State of Emergency Procedures, media service providers, and miscellaneous matters.  For example,

  • a new article 3I is added to the law establishing various courts on the handling of investigations and prosecutions of crimes committed on duty and personal crimes committed by the chairman, department heads, or members of a regional administrative court (DL 690, art. 1; Law on the Establishment and Tasks of the Regional Administrative Courts, Administrative Courts, and Tax Courts, Law No. 2576 (Jan. 6, 1982, as amended), MEVZUAT (in Turkish));
  • a new article 27/A added to the Population Services Law is on the registration of divorce decrees supplied by foreign judicial or administrative authorities in Turkey’s population register (DL 690, art. 4; Population Services Law, Law No. 5490 (Apr. 25, 2006, as amended), MEVZUAT (in Turkish));
  • additional article 1, on the seizure of vehicles used in the crime of smuggling of migrants, is added to the 2013 Foreigners and International Protection Law (DL 690, art. 6; Law on Foreigners and International Protection, Law No. 6458 (Apr. 4, 2013), Ministry of Interior website (unofficial English translation; Turkish text (as amended), available at MEVZUAT);
  • a sentence is added to the end of article 74(2) of the Village Law, which is on the appointment of village security guards, stating that security guards who have reached 55 years of age will be dismissed from their duties (DL 690, art. 27; Village Law, Law No. 442 (Mar. 18, 1924, as amended), MEVZUAT (in Turkish)), and the provisions in certain other laws, such as the Law No. 5335 on the Amendment of Certain Laws and the Social Insurance and General Insurance Law No. 5510, are also amended in connection with security guards;
  • an additional article 1 has been annexed to the Decree-Law on the Commission on Examination of State of Emergency Procedures, listing 13 types of institutions that may file a case to have Commission decisions cancelled (DL 690, art. 55, Decree Law on the Commission on Examination of State of Emergency Procedures, KHK 685, RESMI GAZETE, No. 29957 (Jan. 23, 2017, as amended) (in Turkish); and
  • bans are imposed on chat, friendship, and dating programs transmitted via radio and broadcast services, including such programs that market or advertise food supplements and similar products, and on the promotion, sale, and marketing of offers by telecommunications services (through, e.g., locally dialed numbers or specialized content services numbers) of rewards or prizes via competitions, lotteries, drawings, and other similar means, which mislead the public or cause unwarranted gain.  (Turkish Authorities Expel More Than 3,900 from Civil Service in Latest Purge, supra; DL 690, art. 60, adding a new ¶ 4 to art. 8 of the Law on Radio and Television Establishment and Broadcast Services, Law No. 6112 (Feb. 15, 2011, as amended), MEVZUAT (in Turkish).)  Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus stated in March that the dating programs “do not fit in with Turkish traditions and customs” and that “[th]ere are some strange programmes that would scrap the institution of family, take away its nobility and sanctity.” (Turkish Authorities Expel More Than 3,900 from Civil Service in Latest Purge, supra.)

The Commission on Examination of State of Emergency Procedures, comprising seven members who will serve two-year terms, was founded “to evaluate and make decisions about applications related to operations made within the scope of the decree laws.”  (Appeals Commission Established for State of Emergency Actions, HURRÄ°YET DAÄ°LY NEWS (Jan. 23, 2017).)  The Ministries of Justice and of the Interior and the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors may submit applications to the Commission concerning removals or dismissals from public service and other institutions and the closure of associations, foundations, private radio and television organizations, newspapers and magazines,  news agencies, publishing houses, and distribution channels.  (Id.)  Persons removed, dismissed, or suspended from their jobs as a result of the state of emergency “may also apply to the institution where they last worked” for reinstatement.  (Id.; European Commission for Democracy Through Law (Venice Commission), Turkey: Emergency Decree Law No KHK/685 on the Creation of the Inquiry Commission, Opinion No. 872 / 2016 (Strasbourg, Feb. 21, 2017), CDL-REF(2017)014 (English translation of Decree-Law 685).)