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Turkey kicks off series of reforms in its legal system

Turkey kicks off series of reforms in its legal system

Two years ago, Turkey kicked off a series of reforms in its legal system in an attempt to enhance democracy in the country while promoting human rights and liberties. Recently, one of the most crucial steps in the process was taken as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the Human Rights Action Plan. Now, all eyes are on the new constitution that is to be prepared in the upcoming two years, the final step in this reformation period.

Legal security is “the most important principle” in Turkey’s groundbreaking new Human Rights Action Plan, designed in response to the wants and needs of the Turkish public, the nation’s justice minister said Wednesday.

Abdulhamit Gül told Anadolu Agency’s (AA) Editors’ Desk that the Human Rights Action Plan is a reminder not only to courts, judges and prosecutors but to the public in every field.

“Since it concerns all our citizens, we have worked on the issue with all segments of the society,” he said.

We will set our goals and share them to our nation’s discretion, he added.

Turkey on Tuesday announced its new action plan on human rights, which has 11 main principles set to be carried out over the course of two years.

The new action plan is a step in its reform journey that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has been carrying out continuously and uninterruptedly since the day it was founded in 2001.

Erdoğan on Tuesday unveiled Turkey’s long-awaited Human Rights Action Plan, noting that “broad-based consultations were a part of every activity in the plan prepared according to our nation’s expectations.”

Initially mentioned during the announcement of the first Judicial Reform Package, the plan is based on the vision of “Free Individuals, Strong Society: More Democratic Turkey.” Its motto, however, is the following: “Let people live so the state will live!” The plan originates from the state’s “obligation to protect, in all of its affairs and acts and with all of the state institutions and organizations, the physical and moral integrity and the honor and dignity of individuals.”

Around the 11 main principles that constitute the backbone of the plan, a total of nine aims, 50 goals and 393 activities have been set. The activities envisioned within the framework of each goal under the relevant aims are organized as tangible “measurable and monitorable” actions.

The plan focuses on the topics of freedom, the right to security, the right to a fair trial, freedom of speech as well as the rights of women and the disabled. The enhancement of these rights and liberties has seen setbacks in the bureaucracy that have prevented these rights and liberties from being implemented properly. The plan has been prepared in accordance with the observations and reports of the international mechanisms that monitor human rights in cooperation with several human rights groups.

Some of the other principles of the plan are human dignity, as the essence of all rights, under the active protection of the law; the equal, impartial and honest provision of public services to everyone; the rule of law shall be fortified in all areas as a safeguard for rights and freedoms, and no one may be deprived of liberty due to criticism or expression of thought.

The nine aims of the plan are designed to provide a stronger system for the protection of human rights; strengthening judicial independence and the right to a fair trial; legal foreseeability and transparency; protection and promotion of the freedoms of expression, association and religion; strengthening personal liberty and security; safeguarding physical and moral integrity and the private life of the individual; more effective protection of the right to property; protecting vulnerable groups and strengthening social wealth, and last but not least, high-level administrative and social awareness on human rights.

“This is not a law text, but a goodwill document,” Gül said on the issue, adding that it is not a text just for political parties, but for all people.

On the criticism of the plan, he said they will examine all arguments “with great care” and treat them as constructive and serious criticisms.

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