S. Military Council's decisions should be subject to judicial review

This in turn opens deep wounds in the Turkish public's respect toward and confidence in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) as well as the law.

S. Military Council's decisions should be subject to judicial review
By Bülent Keneş, Today's Zaman

The decisions of the Supreme Military Council (YAŞ), which took four days to make, have once again reminded us of where Turkey stands in terms of the principle of the supremacy of law and human rights, and that nobody or no authority can be superior to the law because the fact that the council's decisions cannot be taken to court gives the impression that this institution is above the law. And this in turn opens deep wounds in the Turkish public's respect toward and confidence in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) as well as the law.

As every year, decisions were made by the council on the officers to be retired and the ones to be promoted to a higher rank, while another 23 officers have been expelled from the army (13 due to indiscipline, and 10 due to reactionaryism).

As the president of the Association of Law Defenders (ASDER), retired Brig. Gen. Adnan Tanrıverdi commented: "It is out of the question to allow those personnel who haven't developed a culture of discipline to stay on in the TSK. Securing the culture of discipline is the first and minimal condition for the fighting efficiency of the armed forces. However, even this fact cannot justify divesting people, whether or not they are military personnel, of their right to a fair trial."

Sadly, YAŞ has been used for the last decade as an instrument for purging a certain number of personnel -- who like to fulfill their religious obligations -- from the army through illegal means. What's more, this arbitrariness perpetrated by the TSK sometimes runs counter to the common values held in high esteem by people.

As a matter of fact, the TSK has all sorts of instruments and a sufficient number of legal regulations that allow it to expel any undisciplined personnel from the army. Putting aside these possibilities, the illegal expulsion of personnel from the army without charging them with any crime and, more importantly, giving them the right to defend themselves in court is an utmost violation of the law and of human rights, in regard to the fundamental right to a fair trial.

Looking at the essence of this practice, these expulsions may be ordered by the force commanders. However, the process of retirement -- which should normally be at one's own will -- taken care of by the council, eradicating all the possibilities of standing up for one's own rights through legal methods, is something done deliberately. And this deliberateness not only shakes people's confidence in the law, it also portrays our noble army as an institution marked by arbitrary practices. And also, if the expulsion processes are really fair ones and are needed to secure the army's discipline, why is the army depriving the people in question of their right to appeal in court? Why should these people be bereft of the constitutional right to a fair trial and defending themselves?

What I have written so far shouldn't be misunderstood. What I oppose here is not the expulsion of a number of personnel from the army for this reason or that. What I oppose is that these processes are carried out through illegal means.

I should also note that the annotations put by Prime Minister Erdoğan and the minister of defense -- who don't agree with the way these decisions are made -- on the decisions of the council are a first, but they are still not enough to solve this problem as the implementation of these decisions depends on the endorsement of the minister of defense for noncommissioned officers, and on a tripartite decree (which must be signed by the minister of defense, the prime minister and the president). The most appropriate step that had to be taken by the prime minister and the minister of defense, who don't find this practice a fair one, should have been not endorsing such imposed retirement processes by not just being content with putting an annotation on the decisions. They should make the legal regulations that will put an end to this practice, which blemishes the Turkish legal system.

It should be clearly seen now that the possibility of retiring undisciplined personnel from the TSK exists also outside the Supreme Military Council. However, this option, which would grant those subjected to a forced retirement the right to seek their rights before law, is being consciously overlooked. This situation marked by a certain degree of arbitrariness fits in with neither our claim to be a state of law, nor the constitutional tenet of granting people the right to a fair trial.
Last Mod: 06 Ağustos 2007, 09:32
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