Generals also need access to judicial review

Recent reports of the resignations of top generals from the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) on grounds that they were deprived of promotion have once again shown the of necessity independent court review of both military and civilian decisions.

Generals also need access to judicial review

Recent reports of the resignations of top generals from the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) on grounds that they were deprived of promotion have once again shown the of necessity independent court review of both military and civilian decisions.

The enjoyment of basic human rights by all individuals regardless of status has increasingly become a life-or-death situation in Turkey, where supremacy of the rule of law has been continuously violated as the government gets ready to introduce a civilian constitution to replace the military-dictated 1982 Constitution.

Reports that two senior generals resigned when they were denied promotions following the annual four-day meeting of the Supreme Military Council (YAŞ), which ended on Aug. 4 and which met under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has once again highlighted that military personnel regardless of rank should be able to go to court and present their objections to YAŞ decisions.

Sabah daily reported yesterday that Maj. Gen. Orhan Uğurluoğlu, deputy undersecretary of the ministry of defense, as well as Brig. Gen. Muzaffer Karaca, staff commander of the Air Training Command, resigned when neither was promoted.

Sex scandal ends general's career

Uğurluoğlu was appointed Defense Ministry deputy undersecretary last year following a scandal that erupted in 2006 at the Air Force Academies, under his command.

Female and male students who were allegedly involved in a sex scandal were sacked from the school, while Gen. Uğurluoğlu was appointed deputy undersecretary following his one-year tenure as commander of academy, a post normally retained by the general in charge for two or three years.

A retired general, speaking to Today's Zaman, stated that Gen. Uğurluoğlu was blamed by those deciding promotions as someone who could not ensure discipline at the Air Force Academies by allowing the sex scandal to erupt under his watch.

According to the same general, no army in NATO, of which Turkey is a member, could tolerate such a scandal, saying that the commander would be found responsible for an inability to ensure discipline under his command.

This analysis of the retired Turkish general may be understandable, but it is not objective.

Any decision that could be said to have been taken objectively should also be open to judicial review if any citizen can say that that public consciousness was satisfied, said a Turkish legal expert.

For this to happen all YAŞ decisions -- whether disputes arising from promotions or for acts of indiscipline including alleged ideological reasons -- should be opened to judicial review, Associate Professor Ümit Kardaş, a retired judge, told Today's Zaman.

In such a case, both Gen. Uğurluoğlu and Gen. Karaca would be able to take their cases to court, which also might help the TSK prove that its decisions not to promote were right.

But in the absence of access to the court over YAŞ decisions, questions continue to be raised as to whether military decisions were right or wrong.

Similarly in democracies, for example, the appointment of members of the Supreme Board of Prosecutors and Judges (HSYK) made by presidents should be open to court ruling, Dr. Kardaş stressed.

Prime Minister Erdoğan and Minister of Defense Vecdi Gönül have been stating their reservations to YAŞ decisions of sacking officers over charges of undisciplined actions, including those who have allegedly been involved in Islamic fundamentalist activities.

The civilian authority's reservations on grounds that those YAŞ decisions should be open to court hearing do not include the promotions or retirements of generals.

But if the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is able to introduce a civilian constitution in line with its election manifesto, all YAŞ decisions, as was the case before the 1980 military coup, will be open to court review.

Today's Zaman

Last Mod: 13 Ağustos 2007, 07:03
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