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Supreme Court of Appeal’s ‘double standard’: Figen Yüksekdağ

The Supreme Court of appeal of Turkey has cancelled Figen Yüksekdag’s party membership due to accusations of “terrorist propaganda” That are brought against her. This has created a lot of debates as according to laws referring to political parties, the court of appeal does not have such a power.

The decision has caused a debate for two main reasons. First of all, accusations made about Yüksekdağ do not constitute an offense for her party membership. According to laws referring to political parties, a political party membership can only be cancelled if the person is convicted of terrorism. However, the law does not precise whether “terrorist propaganda” is included in the meaning of terrorism. Furthermore, “terrorism’s” definition in other parts of the Turkish civil code do not include “terrorist propaganda in that definition. This is why the decision is seen legally as incorrect, causing a debate.

The other reason for the debate is related to the court of appeal’s jurisdiction on the verdict. The laws related to political parties do not give jurisdiction over party membership to the court of appeal. Party membership decisions are put under the supreme court’s jurisdiction according to the civil code. Furthermore, before any case can be made by the Supreme Court, the court of appeals needs to request from the party the removal of the the party member.

For instance, in 2002 the head prosecutor of the Supreme Court of appeals requested from the AKP to remove current president Recep Tayyip Erdogan from the party but the party had refused. As a result, the head prosecutor had petitioned to the Supreme Court for the AKP to be shut down. The court’s decision would take a long time and the case would be eventually dropped in 2009.

Denizalp Göktaş

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