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I[pounds sterling]inister questions top court's annulment of articles limiting freedoms.

ySTANBUL (CyHAN)- A Cabinet minister has said he has difficulty in understanding the reason for the annulment by the Constitutional Court of some articles of a recently passed omnibus law, which stood for Internet censorship, violation of rights and of privacy.

"To be honest, I wonder what the reason is for this [annulment]," Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister LE-tfi Elvan said at a press meeting on Friday, maintaining that the article related to blocking Internet access was based on Article 22 of the Constitution.

The Constitutional Court annulled on Thursday four articles of an omnibus law which it called unconstitutional, thereby blocking the government's move to censor the Internet, restrict freedom of speech and violate rights and privacy.

Maintaining that the annulment has created a legal vacuum and a risk for national security, Elvan underlined that the national security risk is definitely needed to be eliminated by new legislation.

He said: "In all countries, the decision regarding national security is taken immediately when the issue is national security. The only exception is Turkey at the moment."

The annulment of the much-criticized articles is a victory for opposition parties and nongovernmental organizations, which had slammed the government for establishing an authoritarian, Gestapo-like regime.

The top court, apart from annulling the four articles, ruled for a stay for three of the annulled articles, meaning that the annulment of the legislation will be effective immediately without waiting for the decision to be published in the Official Gazette, as their implementation may well cause irreversible harm.

One of the articles canceled authorized the Telecommunications Directorate (TyB) to require Internet service providers to block access to a website within four hours and without a previous court order.

As per the article, TyB would be able to block access to websites for "national security," the "maintenance of public order" and "preventing a crime from being committed."

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) appealed to the top court for the four articles after President Recep Tayyip Erdoy-an approved the omnibus law in the second week of September. The article canceled also allowed TyB to collect all Internet traffic data, which would have, if not canceled, turned the directorate into a big brother surveilling all Internet users.

If the article had not been canceled, no privacy would have remained for Internet users, as Internet traffic data reveals the websites a person visited, how much time he or she spent on a website and with whom a person communicates by email. The annulment also prevented possible profiling of Internet users.

Another article of the controversial legislation the Constitutional Court annulled regards the right granted to state institutions to delay the implementation of court rulings for the restitution of civil servants removed from their posts.

According to the article, high-level civil servants who believe they have been unjustly removed from their posts would no longer be able to reverse the government's decision. Even if a court rules for restitution of their jobs, the verdict was not to be implemented for two years, according to the law.

The legislation was widely interpreted as a measure to prevent the restitution of senior police officers who were removed from their posts in the aftermath of two major corruption investigations that became public with a wave of detentions on Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 of last year. The government dismissed the probe as a plot by followers of the faith-based Hizmet movement and its foreign collaborators to overthrow it.

Still another article of the omnibus law that has been canceled is about the legal protection granted to civil servants who do not implement court decisions regarding the restitution of former posts to civil servants removed.

The final article annulled by the top court concerns the privatization of public enterprise. The article said once five years elapsed since a public company was privatized it would no longer be possible to return it to the state even by court decision.

Thanks to this article, Albayrak Turizm Seyahat, ynE-aat A.E[currency]., which is also the owner of the pro-government Yeni E[currency]afak daily, will keep the Cellulose and Paper Factory (SEKA) in Balykesir, which it bought in a privatization tender in 2003, despite the fact that courts said after the privatization SEKA must be returned to the state as SEKA was privatized far below its real value.

This article apparently aimed at whitewashing the privatizations improperly carried out by the government.

The sale of the paper factory gave Albayraklar Holding, a staunch supporter of President Erdoy-an, a great advantage over its competitors, which were forced to import paper.

The Cellulose Workers Union sued the Supreme Privatization Board (EuYK), a government agency controlled by the government, to cancel the sale.

On July 28, 2003, the Bursa 2nd Administrative Court ruled that the sale of the factory -- which had been valued at $51 million -- for just $1.1 million violated the public interest as well as the privatization law.

In an interim decision, the court granted an injunction against turning SEKA over to its prospective owners and later decided to cancel the sale on Oct. 15, 2003, notifying the Privatization Administration (EuyB) in Ankara of its ruling.

(Cihan/Today's Zaman) CyHAN

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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Date:Oct 3, 2014
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