Dec 24 2017

New gov't decrees pave way for militia forces, granting immunity to civilians 'suppressing terror'

The latest of Turkey's state of emergency government decrees were published in the Official Gazette on Sunday, not only purging thousands of civil servants from their jobs, but also granting legal immunity to "those who took to the streets during the coup attempt" or "assisted with suppressing terror."

The decrees also enforce a uniform on suspects being tried in conjunction with the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.

Experts note that the latest in a string of governmental decrees —namely decrees no. 695 and no. 696— remove legislative authority from Parliament, turning this authority over to the president.

The 121st Article of Decree no. 696 states that, ''Notwithstanding whether individuals hold a formal title or whether they have fulfilled a formal duty, those who have acted in the scope of suppressing the coup attempt and acts of terror on July 15, 2016, and actions that were extensions of these events'' will be exempt from being put on trial for their actions.

A prominent expert on law, Kerem Altıparmak shared on Sunday on Twitter, that "with the changes arriving with the new decree, an absolute legal immunity has been put into effect for any kind of killing and the infliction of injuries that took place on the night of July 15th as well as its aftermath."

Referring to experts, the decree "could pave the way for pro-government militia and risks heightening tensions within an already deeply polarised society," tweeted Selin Girit, a reporter with the BBC Turkish.

Sunday's decree also enforces a uniform on those who have been arrested or serving a sentence in conjunction with crimes that fall under the scope of the law on combatting terror. The new uniforms, which will be golden brown jumpsuits, are to be provided by penal institutions.

Officials have indicated that newly implemented uniform rule will only encompass those who are suspects of what the government has labelled the Fethullah Terror Organisation (FETO) and are accused of having supported the attempted coup; however, may go on to include others.

Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu took to Twitter in criticism of the new decrees, noting, "The enforcement of a standardised uniform is a violation of human dignity; it is an inhumane practice, it is torture."

Sunday's decrees also granted subcontracted workers permanent staff positions. The 4/C status of temporary staff has been removed and a 4/B (contractual) status has been granted to said workers. There is already criticism being voiced on this matter, stating that the decision made by a state of emergency degree as opposed to a decision made in Parliament may prevent subcontracted workers from obtaining their rights in the future.

The large number of subcontracted workers who are being given permanent staff positions is being criticised as a strategic move by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to gather more votes prior to the 2019 general elections.

CHP deputy Candan Yüceer, speaking on this matter, noted "Tens of thousands of subcontracted workers are being imposed upon to give up their right and receivables," in a tweet she shared on Sunday.

ABC newspaper's Deniz Yıldırım holds that all of the new legal regulations being implemented by the new decrees are symbolic as the very implementation of governmental decrees means the shutting down of Parliament.

The new decrees also dismissed 2,766 people from various state institutions over alleged links to "terror" organisations while another 115 people were reinstated to their jobs by the decrees.