“If the Justice and Development Party is serious about Turkey being a regional power, it needs to show leadership on rights and the rule of law,” Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), said. “A new constitution based on proper consultation with opposition and civil society is the right place to start.”
Stressing Turkey’s role in the region, the HRW letter stated that Turkey should publicly support efforts for a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding an immediate end to the Syrian government’s brutal crackdown on its people. The human rights group noted that the AK Party won a record 50 percent of the vote in the June 12 general elections and that it has pledged to immediately begin revising the 1982 Constitution, “which is widely seen across the political spectrum as an obstacle to the full enjoyment of fundamental rights and the rule of law.”
The HRW press statement also noted that the ruling party, with 326 seats in Parliament, is four deputies short of being able to act unilaterally, making it necessary for the AK Party to work with opposition parties on constitutional reform. “The new constitution should remove restrictions on freedom of expression and association, uphold the rights of all groups in Turkey and end discrimination against various ethnic groups by removing language referring to ethnic identity,” HRW said. “It should guarantee the separation of powers, strengthen the role of Parliament and limit the powers of the president, ensure the independence of the judiciary and provide for full civilian oversight of the military,” it continued.
In addition, Roth stated that guaranteeing full rights to the Kurds should be a priority for the new government.