July 4, 2014

CHP's Öztrak: Gov't preparing to turn witch-hunt into clean-up

The Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which has launched a witch-hunt in state agencies, purging every civil servant who it deems is affiliated with the faith-based Hizmet movement, is passing laws to carry out a complete clean-up in the state bureaucracy, Faik Öztrak, deputy chairman of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), has said.

Speaking at a press conference he organized on the Parliament grounds on Friday, Öztrak said the government was working on an omnibus bill which includes provisions that will allow government agencies to ignore court rulings reinstating civil servants removed from their positions.

The AK Party government has responded to a major graft investigation concerning it by removing police officers and civil servants in the state bureaucracy and the judiciary from their posts. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused the faith-based Hizmet movement of conspiring against it, saying the graft allegations are a plot.

At the press conference, Öztrak accused the government of creating a bureaucracy not comprised of civil servants but servants to the government. “What happened to the constitutional article which says reinstating civil servants ordered by courts should be done immediately?” he asked. He said current changes planned by the government cannot be encountered in a democracy. “Such regulations are passed not in democracies but under interim governments. Turkey is going through the worst interim regime in its history,” he said, referring to the rule of the AK Party government.

He said the omnibus bill the governing party is working on introduces a new provision that will allow government agencies two years to enforce court decisions regarding personnel being returned to their positions by court order.

He added: “Also, they are adding an article which says that ‘such administrative decisions about public servants cannot create damages that are difficult or impossible to compensate.' Now the law will decide whether any damage difficult or impossible to compensate has occurred. The discretion of the judge is being removed by law. In addition to this, they are introducing a provision that protects public servants who don't abide by court orders from criminal prosecution. This thing is moving at a fast speed to becoming servants of the government rather than civil servants.” He said the legislation was being passed to protect AK Party ministers from being held accountable for illegal practices in their ministries and also the government is preparing the infrastructure to turn its “long-standing witch-hunt into a clean-up.”

The CHP deputy chairman said the changes being introduced in the omnibus bill are scandalous and unacceptable.

Published on Today's Zaman, 04 July 2014, Friday