The “Bill on Amendments to Some Laws and Decree Laws” Should Immediately Be Withdrawn!
The “Bill on Amendments to Some Laws and Decree Laws,” which will lead to the abandoning of the principle of constitutionalism and separation of powers, to the further perpetuation and consolidation of the de facto state of emergency regime that conduces toward the rendering of legal and political unforeseeability along with arbitrariness and uncertainty dominant in the public space, was tabled before the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (GNAT) on 9 July 2021. This bill should immediately be withdrawn.
A new bill entitled the “Bill on Amendments to Some Laws and Decree Laws,” characterized as an “omnibus bill” by the public, was tabled before the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (GNAT) on 9 July 2021.
Such “omnibus bills,” often resorted to by the political power, prove to be a very problematic and even unacceptable legislative technique with regards to democratic practices as they pave the way to not only the by-passing of specialized commissions, therefore, parliamentary checks but also to the rendering of the opposition both within and outside the parliament dysfunctional by making the content of the proposed legal regulation invisible, in other words, to preventing citizens’ participation. The latest 23-article omnibus bill, including two on enforcement, prescribes serious and important amendments to 21 individual issues. This latest instance clearly reveals the dimensions of arbitrariness in law-making techniques and the great destruction it creates in the functioning of democracy.
The proposed amendments particularly in two of these 21 individual laws pertain to Law No. 7145 that went into force on 31 July 2018 after having been published in the Official Gazetteand known by the public as the “new security law.” The grounds for Law No. 7145, which introduced amendments to some laws and decree laws, clearly indicated that the amendments in question were necessary since the official state of emergency that lasted for two years between 21 July 2016 and 19 July 2018 would not be extended anymore. Thus, although the political power claimed the opposite, the state of emergency regime, which was announced to have been lifted on 19 July 2018, was de facto extended for another three years despite all the criticism and objections raised by human rights organizations. This new bill tabled before the GNAT, too, sets forth that the state of emergency regime would be extended de facto for another three years, thus, making it virtually permanent.
The first of the two above-mentioned articles in the proposed bill (Article 12 in the bill) puts forth that the current custody period, which amounts to a total of 12 days with extensions, would be in effect for another three years on the grounds of “effective maintenance of anti-terrorism efforts” in spite of judgments delivered by the European Court of Human Rights that repeatedly expressed its unacceptability.
The second one (Article 22 in the bill) prescribes that regulations on measures like suspension and dismissal of public employees from their posts, retrieval of their military grades and preventing such employees from using their professional titles would be in effect for another three years again on the grounds of “effective maintenance of anti-terrorism efforts.” As one may recall, about 140,000 public employees were arbitrarily dismissed from their posts during the state of emergency based on these regulations (decree laws) and were deprived of their “right to have rights.” Not only the explicit decisions and stands of all the related mechanisms of the United Nations and the Council of Europe, of which Turkey is a member, relating to the unacceptability of such practices but also the Constitutional Court, though partial, delivered a violation judgment on this practice as was reported by the press. Serious effects brought about by the state of emergency practices have virtually come to bear permanent characteristics, let alone reparation, due to the sluggish work and insufficient decisions taken by the Inquiry Commission on the State of Emergency Measures which was established on 22 May 2017 to redress rights violations.
In brief, it is evident that this bill tabled before the GNAT will lead to the abandoning of the principle of constitutionalism and separation of powers that limit the powers of the government, to the further perpetuation and consolidation of the de facto state of emergency regime that conduces toward the rendering of legal and political unforeseeability along with arbitrariness and uncertainty dominant in the public space when it is handled together with the following facts:
- Not only the state of emergency decree laws issued that were later passed into laws, but also the amendments introduced to more than 300 laws, most of which were done on the grounds of the state of emergency in irrelevant areas, were rendered permanent by their incorporation in the legislation.
- All the articles were regulated in permanence, except for the ones in temporary effect, through Law No. 7145, the “new security” law, that went into effect on 31 July 2018.
- An attempt was made to seriously restrict freedom of association, including removal of executives of associations and their replacement by state trustees, through the Law on the Prevention of the Financing of the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction which went into effect on 31 December 2020.
- The way to the appointment of state trustees to replace mayors after their removal from office had already been paved for through Decree Law No. 674, which was introduced during the state of emergency, and numerous mayors, most of whom were from HDP, have been removed from office and replaced by state appointed trustees.
- Recent annulment of the İstanbul Convention, presidential orders about the establishment of a provincial reserve alert force directorate in İstanbul directly affiliated with the headquarters of the General Directorate of Security, various bylaws like the Bylaw on Amendments to the Bylaw on the Movable Properties of the Turkish Armed Forces, National Intelligence Agency, General Directorate of Security, and circular letters like the one by the General Directorate of Security that bans audio-visual recordings.
- The fact that arbitrary government practices, which are materialized by statements like “I am the state,” or “We could not find it in our hearts,” or “For me this is a crime,” have come to characterize the regime.
Passing of this bill will lead to a significant destruction of the exercise of all rights of the society and will bring the political power to a point of no return along the process abandoning the idea of a rights-based regime. Moreover, it will pave the way to holding general elections possibly within the next three years under a de facto state of emergency regime. Having regard to all these reasons listed above, this new proposed bill that will quite clearly bring about irreparable consequences should immediately be withdrawn.
İHD and HRFT would like to underline that they will be involved in all kinds of democratic efforts for the withdrawal of the proposed bill believing that all social groups will also show the necessary sensitivity towards the issue.
Human Rights Foundation of Turkey
Human Rights Association
 İHD. “İHD’s Views Regarding Law No. 7145 Regulating Permanent State of Emergency.” 1 August 2018. https://ihd.org.tr/en/regarding-law-no-7145-regulating-permanent-state-of-emergency/
 According to the statement issued by the Inquiry Commission on the State of Emergency Measures on 28 May 2021, a total of 131,922 measures were taken by the commission including 125,678 dismissals from public office through decree laws introduced within the scope of the state of emergency. Of these measures, 2,761 were about closure of institutions/organizations. The number of applications submitted before the commission was 126,674. The commission delivered a total of 115,130 decisions including 14,072 (11%) acceptance and 101,058 (89%) rejection decisions. See: https://soe.tccb.gov.tr