Duvar English

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on June 11 applied to Constitutional Court for the annulment of a recent prisoner release law.

The application was filed by CHP group deputy chair Engin Altay who held a press meeting in front of the top court’s building.

“We do not find it right that people are arrested and convicted just because they speak of their thoughts and that this is associated with terrorism,” Altay said.

On April 14, after a week of parliamentary debate, the Turkish government passed a new “criminal enforcement” law that saw up to 90,000 inmates released by halving sentences for offences including non pre-meditated murder and organized crime.

The law has been widely criticized for its exclusion of prisoners sentenced for terror-related crimes, which are often used to silence critics of the government.

The CHP initially challenged the law in the top court in regards to its “form,” where this time the party filed an application in regards to its “substance,” arguing that it is against the principle of equality for its exclusion of political prisoners.

Altay said the CHP demanded in their application file that prisoners who were jailed for their political views should also benefit from the parole law.

“So we demanded that those who are spreading their views on Twitter and Facebook should also be eligible [for parole law]. We said that those who were convicted for joining demonstrations, meetings, writing books or even unpublished books should benefit from this reduction [in sentences]. We said that journalists should also benefit from the reduction which favors thieves,” he said.

Altay pointed out that Turkey has a broad definition of terrorism, which is why several cases in this regard are launched. “In the West, terror investigations are launched in three ways. If there is a praise of armed terror activity; if the speech consists of an explicit [terrorism] threat; and if there is a justification of the terror activity’s purpose,” he said.

“It is unjust for someone to be convicted who has no fault other than expressing their opinion, whereas another who cuts a woman’s arm while stealing her purse on the street is out free.”