Children no Longer Tried like Members of Terror Organizations
Thursday, July 22 2010
Semra PELEK -The Turkish Parliament passed clauses 1 to 7 of the first part of the amendments of the Anti-Terror Law. Children shall no longer be tried as if they were members of a terrorist organization. UNICEF appreciated the adoption of the amendments.The General Assembly of the Turkish Parliament passed the first part of the draft bill regarding amendments of the Anti-Terror Law (TMY) on Tuesday (20 July) as a "fundamental law". The amendments are aimed at sorting out the prosecution of children like adults under the TMY.
Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin announced, "It is very important to keep children who are inclined to crime in a social environment close to their families and not to isolate them from society. It is furthermore crucial to let them participate in life and let them develop as individuals that are getting along well with themselves and their environment".
Substance amended upon proposal
Article 34 of the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations was also amended in the course of the discussion in accordance with clause three of the draft bill. This amendment concerns juveniles tried for opposing the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations who stand accused of attending a demonstration, resisting against the police and spreading illegal propaganda. In this case, the TMK provision stipulating that "Membership of a terror organization and crimes committed on behalf of a terror organization shall be accounted for as terror crimes and punished like members of the organization" will not be applied.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Parliamentary Group Deputy Chair Oktay Vural argued that the amendments regarding the third clause of the draft bill had the "properties of an amnesty". Thus, a majority of a five to three ratio would be necessary for the adoption of the amendment. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) did not agree with Vural's opinion.
Before starting to discuss the second part of the amendments, MHP member Vural suggested a closed session according to article 70 of the Internal Regulations. However, Vural's proposal was rejected by majority vote.
UNICEF appreciated amendments on Anti-Terror Law
UNICEF expressed their appreciation about the adoption of the first part of the amendments. "The changes are a great development. It means that 'children involved in demonstrations will not be regarded as guilty of terrorist offences,' and 'will not be punished as if they were members of a terrorist organization.' Similarly, 'the provision for increasing sentences will not be applied to children.'"
Regina De Dominicis, Officer in Charge of UNICEF Turkey commented, "Now that the legislative framework is in place, we have confidence that the authorities will set up the appropriate infrastructure for its implementation including, increasing the number of child courts, shortening pre-trial detention periods and making greater use of alternative measures to deprivation of liberty. UNICEF stands ready to support the Government of Turkey in all these respects." (SP/VK)