Saturday, July 19, 2008

Rapporteur Recommends Against Closure

Constitutional Court Rapporteur Osman Can has somewhat raised the prosects that AKP will not be closed by issuing a recommendation that the Court should not consider the party to have violated secular provisions in the Turkish constitution. However, Can also recommended that the Court not annul February's law lifting a prohibition against the headscarf at universities and reportedly recommended that the Court not accept the closure case from the beginning (see March 29 post).

From Today's Zaman:
Osman Can, the Constitutional Court's rapporteur, told the court on Wednesday afternoon not to ban Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AK Party) over charges of being a focal point of anti-secular activities because the government's moves were peaceful and aimed at expanding freedoms. Mithat Sancar, a professor of law at Ankara University, said the report is nonbinding and only serves to guide the members of the court as the rapporteur is allowed to make his own evaluations.

"The members [of the Constitutional Court] look at the report to get a better understanding, but in the end vote on the closure case using their own judgment. They do not necessarily vote as the rapporteur advises them to," he said in a phone interview with Today's Zaman.

The same rapporteur recommended to the court earlier this year that it allow the lifting of a ban on headscarves, but the court overwhelmingly -- 9 to 2 -- decided to leave the ban in place. The ruling has been interpreted by most as the judiciary's seizure of Parliament.

Can pointed out that it was Parliament that voted to lift the ban on headscarves on campus and that a previous decision by the top court annulling the lifting of the ban eliminated that threat, according to an unidentified source quoted by The Associated Press at the court on Wednesday.

Mustafa Şentop, an associate professor of law at Marmara University, said the court has a tendency to weigh precedent more heavily than the recommendations of its advisers -- especially on critical decisions such as the closure case and removing the headscarf ban at universities.

"When we look at the court's decisions, we see that the members are in line with the court advisor's recommendations in the majority of cases but are in conflict with the rapporteur on critical issues," he told Today's Zaman.
For the full analysis, click here.

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