The "People's Law Office" has cautioned that the amendments proposed in the third judicial package sent to Parliament's General Assembly by the Justice Commission are going to limit the right of defense in court and interfere with the right of communication.
The bill entitled "The Draft Law on the Amendment of Certain Laws to Increase the Efficiency of Judicial Services and the Suspension of Penalties and Cases Regarding Crimes Committed via the Press" consists of 87 articles.
Some 27 laws are to be amended through the bill, including the Bankruptcy and Enforcement Law, the Turkish Penal Code (TCK,) the Anti-Terror Law (TMK,) the Law of Criminal Procedure (CMK) and the Council of State Law.
Specially authorized courts and the TMK ought to be abolished, and arrested journalists ought to be released, the "People's Law Office" said and elucidated upon the changes brought about by the package as follows:
The Council of State Law and the Law of Administrative Courts
The draft law proposes stiffer conditions for staying the execution in lawsuits filed in administrative courts and the Council of State. Moreover, it also sets forth a new condition for taking the administrative court's defense for the implementation of this decision.
As such, the new draft law overturns the ability of a student dismissed out of school to stay the execution in a single day and return back to school. Under the terms spelled out in the new draft law however, even if the court agreed to stay the execution, the litigant party would still have to wait for an indefinite period for the administrative court to issue its defense.
On the other hand, the proposal stipulates that the decision to reject staying an execution can be immediately issued.
Authorities had already prohibited staying the execution of the Law on the Transformation of Areas under the Risk of Disaster at an earlier date.
The Anti-Terror Law
The amendments to the TMK also broaden the scope of the restrictions on the right to examine the investigation file and taking samples from it.
Authorities will not hand over even the records of testimony and procedures attended by lawyers to them for a period of three months, in addition to health reports that would clearly not imperil the investigation.
The draft law also extends the period of statutory limitations for suits filed in connection with press offenses. The window of opportunity to press charges against journalists and news stories will thus grow wider.
The Turkish Penal Code
The bill extends the scope of the definition of weaponry so as to include any incendiary article, such as deodorants and cologne.
The penal sanctions for crimes committed against electricity and natural gas companies will also grow heftier with the new draft law.
The conditions stipulated in the bill for laying the charge of "attempting to influence a trial" include a definition that is so broad as to include speaking on an ongoing investigation or a legal proceeding, making evaluations about it or requesting a fair trial. Providing information on an ongoing investigation, or attempting to obtain such information, are also defined as criminal acts in the new draft law, while the bill also restricts the right to a public trial.
Law of Criminal Procedure
The upper limit for penalties that warrant the application of judicial control rather than arrest are to increase from three to five years in the bill. As the upper limit of the penalties incurred upon many political prisoners exceeds five years, however, they will not be able to take advantage of this provision. As such, for suspects tried in specially authorized courts, the limits for implementing judicial control rather than arrest are not going to widen.
Moreover, courts will be able to pass verdicts during summary judgments even in the absence of a lawyer and without a plea. (AS)