Post-referendum reforms require amendment of over 200 laws

by editor | 14th September 2010 7:43 am

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The laws need to be modified to be brought into alignment with the constitutional amendment package. Bekir Bozda?, the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) parliamentary group deputy chairman, told Today’s Zaman that the laws will be changed and new laws will be passed in a two-step package that will also include 17 EU harmonization laws. It is estimated that it will take at least six months for Parliament to complete aligning the laws with the 26-article package.

“We will bring laws that need to be passed immediately to Parliament as soon as October. We may collect them under a new harmonization package. But we may need more than one package. Relevant ministries will prepare separate reports as to which laws need to be passed the earliest. Some laws are more urgent than others. And some are not urgent at the moment. We may defer them until 2011. We may collect them under a separate harmonization package,” Bozda? noted.
Ministries are awaiting an order from the government to make necessary legal preparations to complete the harmonization process. The harmonization recommendations that come from those ministries directly affected by the legal change will be evaluated by the Justice Ministry and then forwarded for approval to the Prime Ministry and then Parliament.
If this process goes smoothly, all preparatory work for the harmonization process will be completed in the summer months — and Turkey will have completed its most comprehensive legal reform toward democratization since the Sept. 12, 1980 military coup d’état.
Which laws will be changed?
An addition to Article 10 of the Constitution that says “Precautions to be taken to protect special groups such as children, the elderly and persons with disabilities shall not be considered in contradiction with the principle of equality” will necessitate multiple changes to the Law on the Establishment and Trial Procedures of Juvenile Courts, the Population Law, the Green Card Law, the Social Security Institution (SGK) Organization Law and the Turkish Citizenship Law. The changes to these laws will be included in the first harmonization package.
A foreseen change to Article 41 of the Constitution will also make changes having to do with protection of the family and children’s rights. This will require a review of the Civil Code, the Social Services and Child Protection Agency (SHÇEK) Law, the Law on Disabled Persons and the Education Ministry Organization Law. A change to Article 20 of the Constitution will protect personal data, requiring changes to the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), the Law on Acquisition of Information and the Law on the Protection of Personal Data.
A change to be made to Article 23 of the Constitution will put an end to the arbitrary restriction of foreign travel on Turkish citizens — meaning that nothing short of a court order can bar a person from leaving the country. In order to accomplish this, however, changes will need to be made to a slew of existing legislation: the Law on Debts, the Turkish Commercial Law, the Customs Law, the Passport Law, the Banks Law, the Checking Law, the State Tender Law, the Real Estate Tax Law, the Income Tax Law, the Establishment Tax Law, the Inheritance and Devolution Law, the Bankruptcy and Enforcement Law, the Law on Foundations, the Tax Methodology Law, the Capital Markets Law, laws on the organization of the police forces and many more laws related to the economy.
What will unions on ‘no front’ do?
The government is expected to frequently quarrel with labor unions that were opposed to the constitutional amendment package. The unions have not made a statement about the results of the referendum, and it is still a mystery what kind of a stance they will adopt when Parliament starts to make changes to laws that concern the business world.
Changes to Article 53 of the Constitution will also bring changes to the Unions Law, the Social Security Law, the Law on Civil Servants’ Unions, the Economic Social Council Law, the TCK and the Collective Bargaining, Strike and Lockout Law — to repeal current laws on the right to collective bargaining and strikes. Because the right to collective bargaining will be given to retired persons, the relevant legislation will also be updated.
The establishment of an ombudsman system to be brought about via the amendment of Article 74 of the Constitution will mandate changes to the Law on Acquisition of Information, the Parliament bylaws and the laws on the Court of Accounts, the Supreme Court of Appeals and the Council of State. Meanwhile, Parliament bylaws will also have to be amended due to planned changes to Article 84 of the Constitution regarding the election and terms of office of members of Parliament.
Amendment on military-related laws
The proposed amendment to Article 125 of the Constitution in the constitutional amendment package seeks to open up a judicial path for those expelled from the military — by decision of the Supreme Military Council (YA?) — to appeal the decision. But this will require a scouring of the TCK, the Military Penal Code, the Law on Civil Servants, the Municipalities Law, the State Personnel Law, the Administrative Trial Methodology Law, the Law on Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) Personnel, the Gülhane Military Academy of Medicine (GATA) Law and the War Academies Law for sections that must be amended. In addition, the laws on the organization of the four force commands will also be reviewed.
Meanwhile, the changes proposed to Article 145 of the Constitution aim to pave the way for bringing members of the military to trial in civilian courts when it comes to crimes committed outside the scope of their military duties. This change to one article of the Constitution will require amendments to nearly 20 laws, including the Military Penal Code, the Law on the Establishment and Trial Procedure of Military Courts, the TCK, the Law on Criminal Trial Procedure, the Law on Legal Trial Procedure, the GATA Law, the Law on the National Security Council (MGK), the Law Regarding the Establishment and Duties of Military Administrative Courts, the Military Appellate Court Law, the Military Judges Law, the TSK Internal Administration Law, the Law on the Duties and Authorities of the Office of the General Staff, the Law on War Academies and the Law on Mobilization and Wartime.
HSYK may take months to change
The amendment to Article 114 of the Constitution will spell change for the Law on the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK).
A change to the structure of the HSYK also requires changes to the Justice Ministry Organization Law, the Law on the Supreme Court of Appeals, the Law on the Council of State, the Attorney Law, the Notary Law, the Law on Criminal Trial Procedure, the Law on the Trial of Civil Servants and Other Public Employees and the Law on the Establishment, Jurisdiction and Duties of the Constitutional Court. Making these changes alone could take Parliament several months and lead to serious debates.

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