Turkey looks for its ombudsman as bill submitted to Parliament

The ombudsman's office will be responsible for examining and investigating all manners of administrative acts, actions, attitudes and behaviors in terms of respect for human rights and freedoms

Turkey looks for its ombudsman as bill submitted to Parliament

The ombudsman bill is one of the pieces of legislation that could be passed following a long and hard process at Parliament. Having been on Parliament's agenda for 12 years, the bill has once again been brought to the General Assembly of Parliament as the elections slated for June 12 near.

The ombudsman bill, originally drafted in 1998 during the Bülent Ecevit government, was submitted to Parliament in 1999, but was shelved after the 2002 elections.

It was updated in 2004 and passed as part of the European Union reform process that started in 2005. However, former President Ahmet Necdet Sezer vetoed it on July 1, 2006, maintaining that the Constitution does not contain any reference to an ombudsman.

The government put a reference to one into a Constitutional amendment package that was approved in a referendum held on Sept. 12, 2010.

After the referendum, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) reintroduced the ombudsman bill to Parliament once again. The bill is expected to be passed before the June 12 elections

Surviving four justice ministers

If the ombudsman bill cannot be passed before the elections, it will become of one of the oldest bills pending on the dusty shelves of Parliament. It was originally drafted by former Justice Minister Hikmet Sami Türk of the Democratic Left Party (DSP). It has survived four justice ministers to date. Another interesting bit about the bill is that it could not be passed although all parties have agreed to it.

Speaking to Sunday's Zaman, AK Party parliamentary group Deputy Chairman Bekir Bozdağ said that they intend to pass the ombudsman bill by the end of February. The ruling party's determination to pass this bill can be seen in its efforts to find someone to be appointed as Turkey's first ombudsman.

Looking for Turkey's ombudsman

Several interesting names have been mentioned as candidates for the first ombudsman. Professor Ergun Özbudun is among the first names that come to the mind. Özbudun prepared a draft text of a new and civilian constitution for Turkey in 2007.

Burhan Kuzu, chairman of the parliamentary Constitution Commission, is also another likely candidate for ombudsman. Some ministers who will not make it into the Cabinet after the June 12 elections can also be seen as possible ombudsman candidates. These include State Minister Mehmet Aydın. Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek may be appointed to this post if he is not nominated as Parliament speaker.

Other candidates include former Supreme Court of Appeals President Sami Selçuk, former Education Minister Hasan Celal Güzel, Vehbi Dinçerler (Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's advisor on Palestine) and Hüseyin Çelik, a former Education Minister and currently the Deputy Chairman of the AK Party.

Ombudsman's tasks

The ombudsman's office will be responsible for examining and investigating all manners of administrative acts, actions, attitudes and behaviors in terms of respect for human rights and freedoms, conformity with law and fairness, and appropriateness within the framework of the qualities of the Republic of Turkey as enshrined in its Constitution.

A limitation introduced to the ombudsman bill will exclude activities of a military nature on the part of the Turkish Armed Forces from the jurisdiction of the ombudsman. No authority, organ, institution or person shall issue orders or instructions or circulars or advice to the ombudsman and auditors in the execution of their duties.

Special conditions for being an ombudsman

The ombudsman's office will be called the Public Monitoring Institution (KDK) and will have an independent and autonomous budget. Both real and corporate persons can file claims. Foreigners' right to file will be limited on the basis of reciprocity. The KDK will convene with the absolute majority of auditors under the chairmanship of the ombudsman and make its decision based on majority vote of the attending members. In case of a tie, the ombudsman's vote will determine the winning proposal. The ombudsman will have a term of five years and will be elected by the General Assembly of Parliament.

Any Turkish citizen over the age of 35 can run for this office. Ombudsman candidates will be expected to:

* have graduated from a faculty of law or a political science, administrative science, economy or finance department of universities that offer a certain number of classes on law;
* have at least ten years of experience it the public or private sector in connection with his/her profession;
* not have any physical or mental disease or disability that may hinder him from performing his duties;
* not have been a member of a political party at the time of the application;
* not have been sentenced to more than three months in prison, excluding negligent offenses, or have been convicted of offenses committed against the security of the state, the constitutional order and the functioning of this order, the national defense and stealing and disseminating state secrets as well as espionage crimes, offenses that jeopardize relations with foreign states and embezzlement, extortion, bribery, theft, fraud, forgery, breach of trust, fraudulent bankruptcy, smuggling, or corrupt procurement

Serving in Parliament

The ombudsman's office will be a public institution, subordinate to Parliament, and with a special budget. It will consist of an ombudsman, a maximum of ten auditors, a secretary general, experts and their assistants, and other staff members. It may also open branches if it deems it necessary. The Speaker's Office is currently looking for facilities which may be used by the KDK.

The actions taken solely by the president -- the decisions and orders he sign ex officio, the exercise of legislative powers, the exercise of judicial powers -- will be outside of the ombudsman's jurisdiction.

The ombudsman will take an oath at the General Assembly of Parliament and the auditors at the mixed commission, made up of the parliamentary Justice Commission and the parliamentary Human Rights Examination Commission, before assuming their positions.

If the ombudsman or auditors are later found to be ineligible for their posts by the mixed commission, the General Assembly of Parliament will decide whether or not to terminate the office of the ombudsman.

People can file complaints to the KDK via provincial or district governorates. Claims can be filed free of charge. If a claim is filed, it will stop the clock on the statute of limitations.

The information and documents the KDK may demand in connection with the matter it investigates must be submitted in 30 days after the date of notification.

The ombudsman or the auditor may request disciplinary action against those who refuse to submit these documents or information. However, public agencies can withhold information that constitute state or commercial secrets, but they must provide adequate justification.

The ombudsman or auditors may employ experts and hear testimonies from relevant people. The KDK will process claims in six months at the most.

If any public institution does not find the solution proposed by the KDK feasible, it must notify the reasons for it in 30 days.

The KDK will prepare a report about its activities and recommendations at the end of the calendar year and submit it to the mixed commission, which will examine and send it to the Speaker's Office. This report will be discussed at the General Assembly of Parliament.

It will also be published in the Official Gazette. The KDK will be able to issue public statements as it deems necessary.

CHA

Last Mod: 26 Şubat 2011, 16:17
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