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Turkey: Three New Decree-Laws Issued Under State of Emergency

(Jan. 11, 2017) Three new decree-laws pursuant to Turkey’s state of emergency were published in the country’s official gazette on January 6, 2017.  Decree-Law 679 provides for additional dismissals of thousands of civil servants, police officers, armed forces personnel, and university professors and staff; at the same time, over 200 individuals who had been dismissed under previous decree-laws were reinstated and eleven formerly closed newspapers were permitted to re-open. (Olaganustu Hal Kapsaminda Bazi Tedbirler Alinmasi Hakkinda  Kanun Hukmunde Kararname [Decree-Law on the Taking of Some Measures in the Context of the State of Emergency], KHK No. 679, (Jan. 2, 2017), RESMI GAZETE, No. 29940 (Mukerrer [Duplicate]) (Jan. 6, 2017).)

Decree-Law 679 also orders the closure of 83 associations accused of “activities affecting the security of the state,” including eight sports clubs mostly found in Turkey’s southeastern provinces.  (Turkish Gov’t Takes All Military Appointment Rights in Sweeping New Emergency Decree, HURRIYET DAILY NEWS (Jan. 7, 2017).) Lists of the specific dismissals and closings are appended to Decree-Law 679.

Decree-Law 680, in 87 articles, is divided into four sections, covering judicial regulations, provisions on media service providers, domestic security provisions, and miscellaneous and final provisions.(Olaganustu Hal Kapsaminda Bazi Duzenlemeler Yapilmasi Hakkinda Kanun Hukmunde Kararname [Decree-Law on Making Some Regulations During the State of Emergency], KHK No. 680 (Jan. 2, 2017), RESMI GAZETE, No. 29940 (Mukerrer) (Jan. 6, 2017).) Article 17 of the Decree-Law amends the Law on the Establishment of Radio and Television Enterprises and Their Media Services, for example, to provide that if a media service provider violates a ban on publication, the authorities can suspend its broadcasting for a day; if the same act is repeated three times in one year, the channel’s license will be cancelled. (Id.; Turkish Gov’t Takes All Military Appointment Rights in Sweeping New Emergency Decree, supra; Law on the Establishment of Radio and Television Enterprises and Their Media Services, Law No. 6112 (Feb. 15, 2011), art. 7, available at World Intellectual Property Organization website; Radyo ve Televizyonlarin Kurulus ve Yayin Hizmetleri Hakkinda Kanun, Law No. 6112 (Feb. 15, 2011, as last amended Jan. 6, 2017), art. 7, MEVZUAT.)

Decree-Law 680 also amends the Law on Police Duties and Responsibilities to grant police the authority to access information on the identity of Internet subscribers for purposes of investigating crimes committed online. (Turkish Gov’t Takes All Military Appointment Rights in Sweeping New Emergency Decree, supra; Polis Vazife ve Salahiyet Kanunu, Law No. 2559 (July 4, 1934, as last amended Jan. 6, 2017), MEVZUAT.) The Decree-Law prescribes some new compulsory service periods for gendarmerie and coast guard officers, in a provisional article appended to the Law on the Duties and Powers of the Gendarmerie. (KHK No. 680, art. 48; Jandarma Teskilat, Gorev ve Yetkileri Kanunu, Law No. 2803 (Mar. 10, 1983, as last amended Jan. 6, 2017), MEVZUAT.)

In the view of a Hurriyet Daily News report, “[o]ne particularly chilling aspect of the new law is its introduction of a measure potentially revoking the citizenship of individuals abroad who do not respond to judicial summons issued by courts or prosecutors within 90 days.” (Turkish Gov’t Takes All Military Appointment Rights in Sweeping New Emergency Decree, supra; KHK No. 680, art. 75; Turkish Citizenship Law, Law No. 5901 (May 29, 2009), available at European Union Democracy Observatory on Citizenship website; Turk Vatandasligi Kanunu, Law No. 5901 (May 29, 2009, as last amended Jan. 6, 2017), MEVZUAT.)

According to Hurriyet Daily News, the government has assumed, with the issuance of Decree-Law 681, all powers of appointment in the military, with the Ministry of Defense, in place of the General Staff, to have the authority to form military cadres. (Turkish Gov’t Takes All Military Appointment Rights in Sweeping New Emergency Decree, supra; Olaganustu Hal Kapsaminda Milli Savunma Ile Ilgili Bazi Duzenlemeler Yapilmasi Hakkinda Kanun Hukmunde Kararname [Decree-Law on Making Some Regulations Related to National Defense in the Context of the State of Emergency], KHK No. 681 (Jan. 2, 2017), RESMÎ GAZETE, No. 29940 (Mukerrer) (Jan. 6, 2017).)

Formerly, the General Staff had initiated the appointment process of armed forces commanders; under Decree-Law 681, the Ministry of Defense will suggest, the prime minister will sign off on, and the president will approve a new commander, and the Ministry of Defense will also have the authority to suggest any extension of the force commander’s term of office. (Turkish Gov’t Takes All Military Appointment Rights in Sweeping New Emergency Decree, supra.) Hurriyet Daily News also reports that generals and admirals “previously determined by the General Staff before being discussed in annual Supreme Military Council (YAS) meetings will now be determined by the Defense Ministry.”  (Id.)