Turkish Court Rejects Parts of Constitution Overhaul

Constitutional Court Chairman Hasim Kilic, the chief justice, discusses the court

From Dan Bilefsky and Sebnem Arsu, the New York Times:  Turkey’s highest court on Wednesday struck down parts of a controversial government package aimed at restructuring the country’s Constitution and highest legal bodies, but rejected the opposition’s attempt to discard the changes altogether.

Legal experts said the court rejected giving the president more authority over appointing members of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors, an influential body that has frequently clashed with the governing party.

The court also altered changes that would have made it easier for people without legal backgrounds to serve on the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors. Those changes, critics contended, would have made it easier for the government to stack the board with its own members.

From Hande Culpan, AFP:  The government criticized the court for exceeding its authority with the verdict, but nonetheless said the amendments were still a major reform despite the changes and would go to a referendum on September 12 as planned. …

While [the president of Turkey’s high court Hasim] Kilic said the amendments untouched by the court would go to a referendum, [Justice Minister Sadullah] Ergin said the articles changed by the court would also be put to the vote in September in their edited form. …

The constitutional amendment package limits the jurisdiction of military courts and allow civilian courts to try military personnel in peace time for coup attempts and offences related to national security and organised crime.

Another measure paves the way for the army chief and his top four aides to be tried at the Supreme Court.

The amendments also allow for the trial of the leaders of the 1980 coup, give civil servants the right to collective bargaining, but not the right to strike, and expand women’s and children’s rights.  (photo: Reuters)

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