The constitutional amendments package proposes changes to 23 articles and three interim articles, namely, Articles 10, 20, 23, 41, 53, 69, 74, 84, 94, 125, 128, 129, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 156 and 159 of the Constitution. If a popular referendum is held, the package would be approved or rejected as a whole. The amendments include the following:
Complete changes to the judiciary
Until now, the government has been dogged by problems with the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors, or HSYK, the Council of State and the Ergenekon case; the amendments seek to tackle all these problems at once.
The changes envisage the complete restructuring of the HSYK and open the possibility that its members can now be freely investigated for any wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, the current 11-member Constitutional Court would now have 19 members, 16 of whom would be appointed by the president and three members by Parliament.
A party closure commission
A parliamentary commission would be set up to examine party closure cases, with a commission of 20 members, five members from each party. A two-thirds majority would be sufficient to approve a decision to close party through a secret vote. To open a case, 14 votes from the commission would be required.
Decisions on headscarf ban no longer reason for party closure
Ministerial decisions on religious high schools or the headscarf ban would no longer be a reason for party closures.
Higher court majority to close parties
If the Constitutional Court rules that a party is the center of activities threatening the unity of the state and nation, human rights, the rule of law or the democratic and secular nature of the Republic, it would be dissolved. The votes of 13 of 19 members would be needed for the ruling.
Podium immunity
Discussions and debates in Parliament would not be considered a reason for a party closure.
No stripping of deputy status
Deputies subject to prohibitions from politics will be banned from membership in a different party for three years. However, they would retain the right to remain in Parliament until the end of the legislative session in question.
No name change for new party
It will be permissible for a new party to resurrect the name of a closed party. Meanwhile, the auditing of political parties will be conducted under the jurisdiction of the Court of Accounts.
Suits against parties
If there is a pending lawsuit against a party, new rules will be applied.
Courts more limited
The judicial power of the Constitutional Court and the Council of State will be limited to administrative practices and functions, meaning that no ruling process in the “public interest” will be permitted. In this, there will be no check for “correctness” in cases that are opened.
YAŞ dismissals go to court
Other than appointments and promotions by the Supreme Military Council, or YAŞ, all dismissal decisions will be subject to judicial supervision, including disciplinary punishment for civil servants.
Civilian courts for military members
Members of the military involved in criminal gangs or accused of coup attempts will be sent to civilian courts while military courts would only be permitted to hear military-related cases.
‘Citizen’ members to the High Court
The Constitutional Court would consist of three chambers and one grand chamber. The number of members would be increased from 11 to 19, 16 of whom would be appointed by the president and three by Parliament. New court members would be selected for 11 years and would serve until the age of 65.
Appeal against Constitutional Court decisions possible
The Constitutional Court’s decisions regarding the Supreme Council would be subject to examination while rulings from the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals would also be applied. Citizens would also have a right to make personal applications.
HSYK structure changes
The Supreme Board of Prosecutor’s and Judges, or HSYK, would consist of 21 members and 10 reserves, while four of the total 19 members would be appointed by the president. The court would also function in three separate departments and would have the power to launch investigations against judges and prosecutors.
HSYK members could face investigation
The HSYK members could subject to investigation in cases of misconduct while any dismissal decisions would be subject to judicial supervision.
New HSYK one month after amendments ratified
The new HSYK structure would be formed within 30 days of the constitutional amendment going into law. Members sent by the Court of Appeals would remain in their jobs, but one member sent by the Council of State would be dropped.
Articles on social life
Positive measures for the protection of women, children, elderly and disabled would not be considered a violation of equal rights.
Collective agreements for civil servants
Civil servants would have the right to collective bargaining with a body for conciliation to be established in the event of disagreement. On the other hand, workers would neither have the right to strike nor could the state lock out any employees.
Privacy protection
Everyone would be entitled to the protection of privacy. Data access for personal information would be included in protection measures.
Travel bans to be relaxed
Trips abroad would only be restricted if the person is subject to a criminal investigation or a case.
Child abuse
The state would take measures against child abuse.
Establishment of ombudsman
Everyone would have the right to obtain information. At the same time, complaints would be addressed by a board established under the speaker of Parliament.
Coup perpetrators could face trial
The 15th interim article in the Constitution would be abolished meaning that those involved in the Sept. 12, 1980, coup, including Kenan Evren, Nejat Tümer and Tahsin Şahinkaya, could be subject to trial.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News