Friday, February 15, 2008

AKP Moves Forward with Article 301

A new resolution has been reached by AKP as to the proposal it will make to amend Article 301 of the Turkish penal code. Although a proposal to amend the article was submitted to the Parliament's Justice Committee last month (see Jan. 25 post), no significant action has been taken by the government. Under the new plans designed by the executive committee of AKP, the president will be required to sign off on all Article 301 prosecutions. There has been debate within the party for sometime as to what institution should be required to sign off on prosecutions and the previous proposal had devised that such approval be granted by the Justice Minister. The hope is that requiring the approval of an executive institution will curtial the zealous prosecutions that have brought the law under fire from human rights groups in recent years.

Amending Article 301 has the support of AKP and DTP. The latter has long supported eliminating the article completely since a significant number of the prosecutions that occur under its provisions target Kurdish activists.

In other recent news of note, last week Turkey launched a new program to train judges and prosecutors as to proper application of Article 301. The training will encourage judges to look to Article 90 of the Turkish Constitution to ensure that all Article 301 prosecutions are in accordance with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights.

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