In yesterday' session (22 July) the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) approved the amendments of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK). The adoption of the draft bill paved the way to prosecute children accused of "terror" crimes at juvenile courts instead of high criminal courts.
The amendments define the following novelties for the prosecutions of children under the TMK:
* Children accused of crimes related to the TMK shall no longer be prosecuted at high criminal courts like adults but at juvenile courts. High criminal courts shall not apply provisions regarding investigations and prosecutions specific to children.
* Children who attended demonstrations that oppose the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations (TGYK) and committed "propaganda" crimes according to the Anti-Terror Law shall not be prosecuted any more under allegations of "committing a crime on behalf of an illegal organization without being a member of the organization". Children sued and convicted of this allegation before the draft bill passed into law will be released pending trial. The provision allowing the prosecution of children as if they were members of an illegal organization was lifted in the session on 21 July.
* "Special security measures" foreseen for children that are released due to the amendments shall not be applied. The according provision was removed from the draft bill in the course of the discussion.
Conditions of release on probation not to be applied to children
* Conditions for a release on probation as applied for terror crimes shall not be applicable for children. Also children who do not fulfil the conditions shall be released.
* Children subject to trials opened in the meantime until the law will have been enforced and which resulted in the decision to "postpone the pronouncement of the judgement" can apply to court within 14 days. The judgement will be revoked and a new decision shall be issued.
* The lower limit of punishment related to juveniles who attended demonstrations contrary to the TGYK and who did not draw back despite warnings and the use of force was decreased from 1.5 years to six months. The upper limit of three years remained the same. The punishment for the organizers of meetings and demonstrations shall be increased by half.
* The penalty for juveniles alleged to have resisted the police with violence and threats despite warnings or the use of force shall be increased by one third the least or half the most related to the degree of penalty according to article 265 of the Turkish Criminal Code (TCK).
* The sentence for children carrying weapons (even if licensed) and any kind of devices that could kill, injure or harm another person or propaganda material related to illegal organizations in demonstrations contrary to the TGYK was commuted. The upper limit of penalty was mitigated from five to three years, the lower limit was reduced from two years to six months. (SP/VK)