Nergis Demirkaya / DUVAR

The judicial reform package that the government fast-tracked amid the coronavirus outbreak would offer sex offenders and repeat offenders reductions in prison time.

In a permanent change of the law, repeat offenders, sex offenders and drug dealers would have to spend only 67 percent of their sentence in prison, down from 75 percent, and would be allowed to spend the rest of their sentence on probation.

Murder and terror charges, the latter being a common charge against opposition politicians, would be exempt from the reduction.

Increasing the possible length of probation from one to three years is one of the crucial temporary regulations in the judiciary reform package.

Again, murder and terror charges would be exempt from the extension of probation periods. 

‘Government responsible to positively discriminate toward women’

Even if sex crimes were not included in or exempt from the sentence reductions, the law should explicitly say so, Hacettepe University Law School lecturer Prof. Kadriye Bakırcı said. 

“Even a law with exceptions can be overlooked by the Supreme Court on the grounds that it violates the equality clause of the Turkish Constitution,” Bakırcı said. 

“Men and women have equal rights. The government is liable to enforce this equality,” says sub-section 2 of the 10th amendment of the Turkish Constitution, which makes the government responsible for positively discriminating toward women, Bakırcı said. 

“So if the law explicitly refers to this section, the Supreme Court cannot annul it,” Bakırcı added.

Compensatory regulations

The time that female inmates with children younger than six can be on probation would be increased to four years. The regulation would exclude terror-related charges, murder and sexual assault. 

Inmates who are aged 65 and above are expected to be released on probation. 

In addition, each day that an underage inmate spends in juvenile detention would count as three days. 

The judiciary reform would also allow women and elderly inmates increased time under house arrest: Women, children, and men above 65 would be allowed one year instead of six months under house arrest, two years instead of one for inmates above 70, and four years instead of three for inmates above 75. 

Inmates convicted to fewer than five years would be allowed house arrest if they obtain a medical report proving they have a serious medical condition. 

Injury with malicious intent (as in cases of violence against women) would be punishable by 18 years, instead of 13.5 years.

Led by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and their coalition ally the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the judiciary reform package will be presented to parliament pending evaluation by opposition parties.