Turkish parliament approves bill on international judicial cooperation in criminal matters

MERVE AYDOĞAN @mgulaydogan
Published 24.04.2016 23:17
Updated 24.04.2016 23:18

Late Saturday, Parliament approved a bill on International Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters. With this law, issues concerning the extradition of criminals and judicial cooperation on other penal matters, which had been causing crises between Turkey and the U.S. and EU, become easier. The bill was initially proposed under the 72 criteria that the EU requires Turkey to fulfill to lift the visa requirement for its citizens traveling to the Schengen zone. It includes international judicial cooperation in methods and fundamentals on criminal matters with foreign states where the Justice Ministry is assigned as the authority that addresses judicial cooperation requests made by foreign states.

In addition, the ministry will be able to specify the methods to be followed and the implementation of judicial cooperation with foreign states under international agreements or mutuality reached between states. The ministry will also be able to give consent to states that ask to use information and files under judicial cooperation or limit the use of information or files while requesting to collateralize or subject them to conditions.The bill allows Turkey to deny cooperation with foreign judicial authorities under rights of sovereignty, national security and public order and extradition of foreign nationals who are subject to criminal proceedings for committing crimes or who were sentenced in a foreign country to be transferred to another state that requests the individual in order to conclude the investigation or to execute the sentence. In the case of an individual who is convicted, released or receives remission of punishment, barred by limitation by Turkish courts will not be included in judicial cooperation. Furthermore, judicial cooperation requested by foreign states may be rejected by Turkish authorities under the rule of national security and sovereignty rights, which includes individuals whose extradition could have been requested due to their race, ethnicity, religion or citizenship. The matter of national security and sovereignty rights also includes individuals who belong to certain social groups or are targeted for their political beliefs.

Furthermore, a foreign state that requests the extradition of a criminal must guarantee that the individual can't be sentenced to death. Turkish authorities will also be able to reject extradition requests for criminals who have not reached the age of 18 or have been living in Turkey and/or married in Turkey for a long period of time. As part of judicial cooperation with foreign states, an individual who committed a crime in a foreign country and is subjected to an investigation, sentenced to prison or prosecuted may be extradited to the state that requests it. However, criminals who have been sentenced to prison will have to receive a minimum of four months in prison for authorities to extradite them. Additionally, foreign nationals will not be able to be deported from Turkey without getting consent from the Justice Ministry. Turkish authorities will also allow transit passes through Turkey for a person whose extradition was approved by one foreign state to another.

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