New laws passed by Parliament become outdated too fast

June 18, 2012, Monday/ 13:48:00/ ALİ ASLAN KILIÇ

Academics contributing to various parliamentary commissions that form the foundation for making new legislation have noted that laws passed in Turkey become outdated much faster than in other countries.

The dean of İstanbul Medeniyet University's school of law, Hakan Hakeri, believes that the major problem is the lack of a long-term plan for new legislation, while criminal law professor and lawyer Vahit Bıçak notes that the background work and analysis ahead of preparing a new law is usually not sound in the Turkish experience.

Parliament's specialized commissions work at a fast tempo when discussing proposed laws. Parliament works day and night to pass proposals and bills, discussions on which have been completed at commissions. However, controversy and discussions about newly passed laws, which are passed with much time and effort, begin too soon, experts note.

Professor Hakeri explains: “No matter how perfectly you draft a law, at the end of the day, problems will almost certainly arise during enforcement. This is not unique to Turkey. Even countries that are good at making laws have this problem. They bring in a lot of experts, have them discuss it, but later they have to make a large number of amendments or pass additional laws. In Turkey, some flaws that are unique to us also come into play in the process of lawmaking.”

For fundamental laws, such as the Turkish Commercial Law, there is a lot of groundwork and long-term planning ahead of the drafting process, Hakeri notes, but the same care is not taken with other laws, leading to a large number of unforeseen problems and glitches. Most legislators, Hakeri notes, do not have a problem with a “wait and see” approach.

Professor Hakeri also notes that legislators often do not make use of international experience and know-how in lawmaking. “In general, we can't craft long-term plans while making laws. If a team of experts working on a new law in a commission, and that's rare, starts out with 50 people, you often see that that number's gone down to five people towards the end of the task. This is because these people work at their own jobs during the week, and work with the legislation commission on weekends. The pay they get isn't very good. They don't offer any opportunities to these people to make use of international experiences. For example, if the experts want to find out what kind of legislation a specific country has on a certain topic, there are no supporting experts who know the language and law of that country. All of these are obstacles in the way of better lawmaking.”

Hakeri said most of the laws in Turkey are “panic laws,” that are passed in reaction to a problem at hand, without being discussed or thought over thoroughly. “And sometimes politicians make changes to the work of academics if they don't find it in accordance with their interests.”

Professor Bıçak, who is a professor of criminal law, noted: “In the drafting process, an impact analysis should be conducted. This is customary in the world. People try to work out the possible effects a law might have on society in the process. The fundamental element we are missing is that we do not conduct an impact analysis.”

He said the results of a law are seen only after it's been passed and usually via two media: news stories and EU progress reports.

However, Bıçak said, there are laws whose adverse consequences are not reflected in the media or in EU reports but which still negatively influence citizens' lives. “This is why impact analyses regarding a law should be repeated every five or 10 years. The answer to the question, ‘How does this law affect social life?' should be sought.”

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