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    Gov’t set to toughen rules on shut downs

    by Göksel Bozkurt
    30.04.2009 - 00:00 | Son Güncelleme: 29.04.2009 - 19:11

    ANKARA - The Ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, is focusing on a constitutional amendment that would make party closures more difficult in line with the latest Venice Commission’s report on party closures in Turkey.

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose party barely survived closure case last year, had previously announced that there would be a partial constitutional change in the upcoming days.

    The report of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission drew attention to the frequency of party closures, arguing that the general threshold is too low for prohibiting or dissolving parties. It urged Turkey to decrease the number of reasons that can lead to party closures.

    The report also criticized the competence of the public prosecutor to file a closure case against political parties, saying there is lack of political control and a balance mechanism. Thereport concluded that relevant provisions of the Turkish law on political parties are incompatible with the relevant treaties of the Council of Europe.

    Redefinition of criteria

    The committee, which is currently studying a constitutional amendments package, will reduce the number of criteria that allow party closures and change the procedure of a closure case in line with the report by the Venice Commission, the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review has learned.

    According to the 68th article of the current Constitution, a political party’s legislation and program must not threaten the independence of the state and unity of the country, human rights, equality, principles of law state, national will, democratic and secular principles of the republic, and must not encourage the dictatorship of a certain class or commit a crime. In the light of the report, the government aims to decrease these criteria to four.

    It was also learned that acting against democracy, resorting to force and encouraging people to violence and ethnic discrimination would be in the Constitution as reasons for party closure. However, there will be an amendment over the procedure to file a closure case against a political party. Thus, a chief prosecutor’s right to file a case against a political party on the prosecutor’s own initiative will be conditional upon permission from Parliament or the Court of Appeals.
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