Turkish rapporteur recommends dismissal of reform package appeal

A rapporteur for the Turkey's Constitutional Court has recommended that justices dismiss an appeal to review a reform package.

Turkish rapporteur recommends dismissal of reform package appeal


World Buleltin - News Desk

A rapporteur for the Turkey's Constitutional Court has recommended that justices dismiss an appeal to review a reform package sponsored by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) on Monday, in line with a similar ruling in the past.

The top court held its first review session on the package following its acceptance of an appeal by the Republican People's Party's (CHP) which argued that some judicial reforms included in the package violate the constitutional principle of separation of powers. The Supreme Election Board (YSK) has set the referendum date for the package as Sept. 12, but it will only this week become clear whether all of the package's articles will be voted on in the referendum.

The Constitutional Court is faced with a historic decision, and its final verdict may create doubts regarding the judiciary in Turkey, already part of a controversial debate. The ruling may also increase the possibility of the ruling AK Party government calling early elections in the fall. The court is expected to announce its final decision this week.

Court rapporteur Ali Riza Coban submitted his observations to the court's justices at the beginning of yesterday's session, Cşhan News Agency said.

The report recommended leaving the package intact and untouched -- in line with a precedent from 2007, when the Constitutional Court rejected an appeal from former President Ahmet Necdet Sezer to annul a constitutional amendment that would allow the people, and not Parliament, to elect the president. That change was on its way to a public referendum at the time. The court said the legislative process was ongoing and rejected Sezer's appeal.

Should the court rule differently this time, a new political crisis will surely ensure. The rapporteur's suggestions are not binding, and it has not been infrequent in the past for the high court to vote in a manner that contradicts a rapporteur's recommendations. This is the second report from Coban, who on June 8 suggested the court overturn the CHP's appeal and not even review the package on procedural grounds. In yesterday's report, he advised against reviewing the package in terms of its substance.

Legal experts lauded the rapporteur. Mustafa Sentop, an associate professor of constitutional law at Marmara University, said if the judges ventured into substance during their review of the package, they would have to be tried on charges of “abuse of power.”

Omer Anayurt, an instructor at the Sakarya University department of law, also agreed, saying the Constitutional Court could not act as a “preventive” institution. “It can only review such cases on procedural grounds,” Anayurt said.

Kirikkale University's Adnan Küçük agreed with the rapporteur's point about the court's previous decision. “The package has not yet been enacted. The process for that has not been completed. So the court cannot review the package at all, and it should heed the rapporteur's report.”

In related developments, the Constitutional Court yesterday rejected an appeal from Adem Cevik, head of civil society organization the Justice Platform, to remove Constitutional Court President Haşim Kılıç and some other court members from the case. Cevik had filed charges of abuse of power, solicitation to commit a crime, abetting a crime and attempting to overturn the constitutional order. The court overturned the appeal on the grounds that Cevik was not entitled to apply to the Constitutional Court. A request from lawyer Suleyman Arslan to become a party in the trial was also rejected on similar grounds. Arslan petitioned the court earlier yesterday insisting that he was also included in the case in defense of the package and appealed to the court for a stay on its review of the package.

State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc also made a statement on the Constitutional Court process yesterday, saying: “We are hoping that the Constitutional Court will deliver a ruling in line with the Constitution. I hope that our people will go take part in the referendum on Sept. 12 and vote for or against the proposed constitutional amendments.”

Meanwhile, AK Party Malatya deputy Oznur Calık issued a statement yesterday saying that if the Constitutional Court canceled the referendum package, the people would give the appropriate response at the ballot box. She said the package would take Turkey to further heights as a strong, democratic, secular, welfare state administrated by the rule of law.

In comments on the rapporteur's recommendation, CHP Deputy Chairman Hakki Suha Okay emphasized the report's non-binding nature and said it reflected the rapporteur's personal views.

If the Constitutional Court rules that part or all of the package is in line with the Constitution, there will be a public vote on Sept. 12. Voter turnout will be directly connected to whether the amendments regarding the judiciary's structure are removed from the package.

The CHP, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and Democratic Left Party (DSP) will start campaigning against the package. The AK Party, Felicity Party (SP) and Grand Unity Party (BBP) will campaign in its favor.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 05 Temmuz 2010, 18:36