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Turkey's new legal definitions lead to increase in arrests

A new legal provision to facilitate police action against government opponents in Turkey has victimized scores of people in a short period of time.
An anti-government protester is detained by riot policemen during a demonstration in Ankara March 12, 2014. Turkish police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse a crowd of several thousand demonstrators in Ankara's central Kizilay square on Wednesday in a protest triggered by the death of a teenager wounded in street clashes last summer. REUTERS/Umit Bektas (TURKEY  - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)   - RTR3GRAH
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Rattled by the Gezi Park protests in 2013 and further frightened by street unrest with the Kurdish riots over Kobani in October, Turkey’s government has facilitated detentions and pretrial arrests through a legal amendment that removed the criteria of “strong suspicion” and “substantial evidence” and replaced them with “reasonable suspicion.” The amendment has led to thousands of detentions or pretrial arrests in a short period of time.

In fact, it was the same government that had introduced the “strong suspicion” clause instead of “reasonable suspicion” in February 2014 to prevent arrests in corruption investigations that targeted ministers and government cronies. However, soon things changed. As the Gulen community became the target of police operations, the government again amended the provision and reintroduced the “reasonable suspicion” clause.

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