New decree brings impunity for paramilitary groups, critics say

Turkey woke up to Sunday with two new decree laws while the Parliament is on recess, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is on a foreign trip, and the West is on holiday.

But the decrees amount to a regime change in the country, critics said.

One of the most significant regulation is regarding the civilians who took part in suppressing coup attempts or terror acts, Ahval reported.

The Art. 121 of Decree Law No. 696 reads:

Regardless of their official duties, or appointments, any individuals who took part in suppressing the attempted coup d’état on July 15, 2016, terror acts, and other acts which are considered to be a continuation of these, will be subjected to the first clause [on immunity].

An earlier decree law (No. 6755), later approved by the Turkish Parliament, provided immunity for state officials who took part in stopping the coup attempt.

Today’s clause provides ‘absolute impunity’ to civilians who killed or wounded others during the night of the coup, legal scholar Kerem Altıparmak said.

Lawyer Hüseyin Ersoz noted the ‘continuation’ clause, and said, the laws cannot lift legal liabilities of a person before the act, “this is against rule of law.”

Kurdish opposition HDP’s deputy Ziya Pir said: “The decree gives exemption from punishment for civilians. This move legitimises paramilitary groups in Turkey.”