Erdoğan unveils Turkeys Human Rights Action Plan

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ANKARA, MAR 2 – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday unveiled a human rights “action plan” designed to strengthen the rule of law and judicial independence in a country.

Erdoğan quoted the late US civil rights leader Malcolm X in saying he stood “for justice, no matter who is for or against it” before laying out the details of his 11-point proposal.

Its commitments include respecting the presumption of innocence and a speedier judicial process to reduce the length of pre-trial detention.

Erdoğan said the plans’ ultimate goal was to lay the groundwork for a new constitution that he has promised to adopt by the time Turkey marks its centenary as a post-Ottoman republic in 2023.

“No one can be deprived of freedom for their thoughts,” Erdoğan said in a statement on Tuesday.

Erdoğan said that the “Human Rights Action Plan” would strengthen the right to fair trial and judiciary system.

“Broad-based consultations went into every activity in Human Rights Action Plan prepared according to our nation’s expectations,” Erdoğan also said.

Turkey’s new Human Rights Action Plan will be carried out over 2-year period, the Turkish president stressed in his remarks.

“We will continue to stand by the citizens against all kinds of threats to the dignity, belief, values, and life of the people,” he added, saying that the new plan includes nine main goals, 50 targets, and 393 actions.

He listed the principles that form the state’s irrevocable commitments to the nation as follows:

1. People enjoy inalienable rights given by birth, and it is the state’s duty to protect and develop these rights.

2. Human dignity, as the essence of all rights, is under the effective protection of the law.

3. Everyone is equal before the law, without any discrimination on the basis of language, religion, race, color, gender, political opinion, philosophical belief, sect, or similar factors.

4. Providing public service to everyone equally, impartially, and honestly is the main feature of all administrative activities.

5. The laws must lay out express, clear, understandable, and predictable rules without causing hesitation, and public authorities must implement these rules without compromising the principle of legal security.

“We aim to boost the effectiveness of system of individual applications to top Constitutional Court,” Erdoğan added.

To strengthen democratic participation, he added, the country will start comprehensive work to revise the political parties and electoral laws.

A new Human Rights Compensation Commission will cover the financial burden of long trials without the need to apply to the Constitutional Court, said Erdoğan.

He also pledged that an independent Human Rights Monitoring Commission for Penal Institutions will be formed, including members from both bar associations and universities.

RESOLVING INVESTORS’ DISPUTES

A new investment ombudsman’s office will be set up to settle disputes between the administration and investors, he said.

Turkey will also provide open access to the decisions of the ombudsman and human rights and equality institutions while also protecting personal data privacy, he said.

He stressed that in order to boost the standards of freedom of expression and the press, Turkey is developing measures to facilitate journalists’ professional activities.

Turning to the rights of non-Muslims in Turkey, a state that has long embraced people of all faiths and backgrounds, Erdoğan said: “Turkey is revising the Foundations Law on the establishment and election of board of directors of non-Muslim community associations.”

Moreover, public and private sector staff and students will be allowed to take leave for the religious holidays that they observe, regardless of their faith.

Under the new action plan, Turkish police will be able to take statements anytime-24 hours a day, seven days a week-and the country will end time limits for disciplinary probes of torture allegations, according to the president.

“The ultimate aim of Turkey’s action plan is a new civilian constitution,” stressed Erdoğan, returning to a theme he has touched on repeatedly this year.