Turkish lawyers and academics hailed the Human Rights Action Plan announced Tuesday by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Muharram Ozen, a law professor and dean of the law faculty at Ankara University, told Anadolu Agency that Turkey had earlier made several changes based on human rights but for the first time put forward a plan that all parties worked on for a long time.
Mentioning the goals in the action plan, Ozen said he attaches importance to the objectives of the judiciary’s independence and judicial processes with the regulations on detention and judicial control provisions.
He underlined that the goal of carrying out some studies for disadvantaged groups is also important.
“Turkey entered a new era in human rights. Each of these [goals in the action plan] will crown human rights even more, especially if the new constitution studies take place in this sense. Turkey will ‘crown’ the 21st century and it is the 100th anniversary of the Republic,” he added.
Fatih Usan, the dean of Law Faculty at Ankara-based Yildirim Beyazit University, agreed with Ozen, saying important gains will be achieved with the implementation of the action plan.
Usan said the plan, some of which will be implemented with legislative arrangements, offers solutions to the problems.
According to Usan, with the action plan, many issues from freedom of expression to children and disabled people were dealt with.
Pointing out that the ultimate goal of the plan was a new and civil constitution, he highlighted the importance of the implementation of a civil constitution.
“The starting point of our President [Recep Tayyip Erdogan] and the Ministry of Justice is the implementation of a civil constitution shaped by our own values,” he said.
“We also support this,” he added. “Some of the regulations of the Human Rights Action Plan are also issues related to the amendments in the Constitution.”
“The renewal of the electoral system, the resolution of this in a more human rights-oriented manner, and the updating of the constitution — more precisely, the implementation of a civil constitution — are in fact our expectations,” he added.
Cem Duran Uzun, director of Law and Human Rights at the Ankara-based Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), stressed the importance of the announcement of the action plan by the Turkish president, as it meant that all state institutions are behind it.
Uzun also stressed that the action plan is a document that regulates the protection of human rights and the prevention of rights violations.
“We see that some concrete activities regarding almost all categories of rights and freedoms are foreseen in the plan,” he added.
The plan does not only consist of “wishes and general statements that will remain on paper,” he said, adding there were some concrete goals, objectives and activities that were envisaged and acted on accordingly.
He also stressed the importance of creating a new constitution to complete all the steps to be taken regarding the rights in the Human Rights Action Plan.
“The preparation of a participatory, deliberative, consensus-based new constitution will crown this Human Rights Action Plan,” he added.
The plan is the main policy document for Turkey as the country prepares to mark its 100th anniversary. The document emphasizes property rights, vested rights, individual criminal responsibility and the presumption of innocence while also enhancing transparency, accountability and judicial independence and objectivity.
[AA, March 3, 2021]