11 November, 2014 - Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS is deeply concerned with the proposed “Security Package” before the Turkish Parliament, which if approved will warrant abusive policing practices, such as the ability to disperse public assemblies with physical force and to use firearms against protesters. In addition, the security package will grant courts broad powers to persecute and detain political dissidents.
On 22 October 2014, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkey’s governing party for the last 12 years, proposed the “Security Package” which will severely undermine international norms of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. The proposed law was prompted by mass demonstrations in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern cities of Turkey, which left nearly 40 dead and a large number of protesters detained. After the protests, President, Tayyip Erdoğan, vowed to make protesters “pay dearly” for taking to the streets. If successful, Turkey’s security measures would reverse restrictions placed on the police passed only nine months ago to match EU standards, and act as a reminder of the repressive policies used by the military junta that ruled the country in the early 1980s.
Although the security package purports to restore public order and maintain security, the provisions infringe on citizens’ civil liberties by allowing police to carry out searches without a court warrant and arrest protestors on “reasonable suspicion” rather than “concrete evidence”. Supplementary to these measures, the proposed bill will also restrict lawyers’ access to their clients’ case files and extend the authority of the courts to use wiretaps and seize assets.
“Approval of the proposed measures will increase unwarranted surveillance and censorship of Turkey’s most engaged and socially conscious citizens,” said Semanur Karaman from CIVICUS. “The bill, if accepted, will further fuel the on-going authoritarian drift in Turkey.”
Turkey’s abusive policing practices have been under the spotlight since the Gezi Park demonstrations in June 2013, when security officials responded with excessive and even deadly force against peaceful protestors, resulting in the death of 11 people and injuring more than 8000. Thousands of law abiding activists were tried in courts for allegedly “establishing terrorist organizations” or “attempting to overthrow the government” under dubious criminal and anti-terror legislation.
A number of civil society organisations are worried that these types of policies will lead to enhanced persecution of government critics under counter-terrorism measures. Coupled with the hotly contested security package, the government and its security forces would be provided with unparalleled authoritarian powers to extinguish any and all forms of political dissent.
CIVICUS urges the Turkish government to uphold its national and international human rights obligations by withdrawing the proposed “Security package”.
For more information please contact:
Semanur Karaman Policy and Advocacy Officer, CIVICUS
Zubair Sayed, Head of Communication, CIVICUS
Landline: +27 11 833 5959 ext. 140
Mobile: +27 72 456 3036