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Turkish Government Aims To Increase Police Powers

Clashes in Istanbul on June 15, 2013
Clashes in Istanbul on June 15, 2013
Nuray Babacan

ISTANBUL — Last month the Turkish government unveiled its so-called democratization package, which included everything from a lifting of a headscarf ban to new multilingual education and reform of the national electoral law.

Now comes another legislative push, but this time it would include a series of measures to increase the authority of the police over citizens. The most critical feature of the package being introduced to Parliament is that it would allow authorities to enforce preventive detentions from 12 to 24 hours. This practice will no longer require an order from a judge or a prosecutor as it did before, and will allow police to directly detain whoever they deem likely to stage an illegal protest or otherwise cause trouble.

There were talks of increasing the authority of the police, following the protests earlier this year against a proposed construction project in Istanbul's Gezi Park. But this has since been expanded into a major series of legislation regarding law enforcement. The “Law Enforcement Inspection Board” which was formerly slated to be included in the democratization package is included in this one instead, with the Turkish Ministries of Interior and Justice now cooperating on the project.

The new bill stipulates that organizations that are considered likely to stage protests and cause trouble are to be duly followed by law enforcement agencies. If police verify such actions are being planned, they can autonomously choose to detain members of these organizations for 12 to 24 hours; a court order can extend this period.

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Police action during Gezi Park protests — Photo: Mstyslav Chernov

The current practice for preventive detention requires a prosecutor or judge to issue an order, which has been used against Kurds before Newroz celebrations, as well as on May 1 rallies and soccer matches, already sparking protests from civil liberty groups.

Other measures proposed in the bill include:

Harsher punishments
The new package will also increase penalties for resisting police and damaging public property. Articles 152 and 265 of the Turkish Penal Code are to be rewritten for that purpose. Increasing punishments for using violence against or threatening civil servants is also in the plans.

Molotov Cocktails
According to the draft, the Molotov cocktail is to be defined as “handmade tool of offense or defense formed by inflammable or combustible material,” and anyone who stocks or carries one will face prison sentences from three to five years. If the Molotov is to be used by a criminal organization, the penalties will be able to be increased by half.

Repeat offenders
Another increase of penalty is planned for covering one's face during protests and similar events. According to Turkish laws, the police do not arrest people: Suspects are detained and the courts issues the order for their arrest. Since arrest is not used for offenses that lead to prison charges of less than two years, the package will include a reform for allowing the court to arrest the suspect in case they repeat the violation that would not require arrest otherwise.

Internal affairs
A “Law Enforcement Inspection Board” is expected to be part of the draft of the package. The reform would allow for the inspection of law enforcement into alleged violations of human rights. NGOs have demanded that the board charged with investigating police behavior should be formed by civilian and neutral members. It is said that the government is considering this board to counter any criticisms of a “police state” that this new legislation may provoke.

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What's Spoiling The Kids: The Big Tech v. Bad Parenting Debate

Without an extended family network, modern parents have sought to raise happy kids in a "hostile" world. It's a tall order, when youngsters absorb the fears (and devices) around them like a sponge.

Image of a kid wearing a blue striped sweater, using an ipad.

Children exposed to technology at a very young age are prominent today.

Julián de Zubiría Samper


BOGOTÁ — A 2021 report from the United States (the Youth Risk Behavior Survey) found that 42% of the country's high-school students persistently felt sad and 22% had thought about suicide. In other words, almost half of the country's young people are living in despair and a fifth of them have thought about killing themselves.

Such chilling figures are unprecedented in history. Many have suggested that this might be the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but sadly, we can see depression has deeper causes, and the pandemic merely illustrated its complexity.

I have written before on possible links between severe depression and the time young people spend on social media. But this is just one aspect of the problem. Today, young people suffer frequent and intense emotional crises, and not just for all the hours spent staring at a screen. Another, possibly more important cause may lie in changes to the family composition and authority patterns at home.

Firstly: Families today have fewer members, who communicate less among themselves.

Young people marry at a later age, have fewer children and many opt for personal projects and pets instead of having children. Families are more diverse and flexible. In many countries, the number of children per woman is close to or less than one (Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong among others).

In Colombia, women have on average 1.9 children, compared to 7.6 in 1970. Worldwide, women aged 15 to 49 years have on average 2.4 children, or half the average figure for 1970. The changes are much more pronounced in cities and among middle and upper-income groups.

Of further concern today is the decline in communication time at home, notably between parents and children. This is difficult to quantify, but reasons may include fewer household members, pervasive use of screens, mothers going to work, microwave ovens that have eliminated family cooking and meals and, thanks to new technologies, an increase in time spent on work, even at home. Our society is addicted to work and devotes little time to minors.

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