Parliament agrees to 10 critical items included in domestic security package

MERVE AYDOĞAN @mgulaydogan
ANKARA
Published 22.02.2015 20:44
Updated 23.02.2015 09:59

As Parliament was home to intense reactions from opposition parties over the last five days, a violent argument over the hotly debated security bill left five deputies injured last week.

Despite strong criticism, Parliament has finally approved the first 10 items included in the domestic security reform package, which has been prepared in line with Western templates to prevent violence and vandalism during protests. The government has said that the Domestic Security Reform Package, which aims to establish a balance between freedom and the security of citizens while enhancing the civilian identity of the state, has been prepared in line with EU standards of security, freedoms and security regulations.

While opposition party deputies refuse to discuss and debate the recently introduced security bill, Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and the Republican People's Party (CHP) deputies continued late Saturday night to increase tension in Parliament. CHP and HDP deputies staged a sit-in protest in the middle of Parliament, shouting slogans during the session. Commenting on the intense reactions from the opposition parties, Interior Minister Efkan Ala recently said that the government has prepared the domestic security package not to please the opposition, but to fulfill the needs of the public. "It has been hailed by 80 percent of the Turkish public," Ala claimed.

The 10 critical items included within the security package that were approved by Parliament on Saturday night include the authorization of a security officer in charge to conduct a search of a possible suspect and/or his or her belongings in case of an emergency. However, the officer will be expected to provide official documentation regarding the case at the time of the search within 24 hours. In addition, police officers have been authorized by Parliament to use neutralizing force against individuals who attack or protest by using Molotov cocktails, explosives or any other weapon. In regard to concern raised by such authorization, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had previously said: "Granting police officers unlimited authority is out of the question. The powers given to the police will be restricted and defined. They will account for any violation of authority in the face of [the] law." He added that the government will not deviate from its democratic course while imposing tougher security measures.

As Molotov cocktails are considered a deadly weapon in a number of countries such as Germany, the U.K and Austria, Parliament also agreed to prohibit the possession of Molotov cocktails, slingshots, fireworks and other hazardous materials during protests. Furthermore, protestors who cover their faces during protests may face imprisonment if they are found to have pro-terrorist tendencies under the security bill. Additionally, EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Volkan Bozkır previously assured the public that Turkey does not have any intention to enact any law or practice that is contrary to EU norms, and that the draft bill comprises many important reforms like the civilianization of the gendarmerie.

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