What Turkey's constitution says on a state of emergency

Turkey's cabinet has the power under the country's constitution to declare a state of emergency after consultation with the National Security Council.

According to Article 120, the conditions required for such a declaration would be "widespread acts of violence and destruction against the free democratic order" or "a grave collapse of public order."

The president has the right to chair the cabinet meeting and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been at the helm of recent gatherings.

The cabinet can declare the state of emergency nationwide or just in parts of the country, for a maximum of six months, which can be renewed. Erdogan declared a three-month nationwide state of emergency.

The order is then sent straight to the legislature, which, if in recess, is immediately reconvened. The Grand National Assembly can amend the duration of the state of emergency, lift it or, upon a request from the cabinet, extend it for four months.

Once the state of emergency is in place, the cabinet – still headed by the president – can issue decrees that have the power of law. These decrees need to be presented to parliament on the day they are issued. The decrees may not be challenged before the constitutional court.

Article 15 states that, during the state of emergency, basic rights can be entirely or partially suspended. Measures can be put into place that run counter to basic constitutional guarantees. However, there is an obligation not to violate international law. Prohibitions against summary executions and capital punishment remain in effect, except in cases of active wars.

It remains illegal to force people to publicly disclose their religious affiliation, conscientious objections, opinions or thoughts, or to punish anyone for those. Punishments may not be retroactive. The presumption of innocence would remain in effect: No one can be found guilty unless they are tried in a court of law.

The state of emergency may also be declared in cases of natural catastrophes, epidemics or an especially bad economic crisis. Conditions under a state of emergency are, in terms of their restrictiveness, one step below those that would be employed in wartime.

Last update: Wed, 20/07/2016 - 23:01

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