Civilian oversight of Turkish law enforcement strengthened with UNDP and EU support

Posted December 9, 2021

Achievements include 19 boards that involve local administrations and civil society representatives in setting priorities for crime prevention

Ankara, 9 December 2021 – Concluding 13 years of joint work on civilian oversight of the internal security services, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the European Union (EU) and the Ministry of Interior of Turkey today highlighted the importance of transparency and accountability in ensuring that the work of the police and other law enforcement agencies upholds human rights standards and meets citizen needs.

With a total of €11.4 million in funding over three phases, the civilian oversight programme provided a mix of policy advice and hands-on training for police, parliament, central and local officials, civil society and the media.

“The most attractive part of this project, of which we are closing the third phase today, is to include civil dynamics in the picture, to include them in the analysis, and thus to increase prevention,” said Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu at the programme’s closing event. “Increasing civilian perspective in security governance, in my opinion, will be one of the topics of the future vision of security. A good collaboration has been established here. Within the scope of the project, we have 2 pilot provinces and 17 districts, and we plan to establish local prevention and security boards in all provinces and districts [of Turkey].”

Among the achievements of the programme was the creation of a nationwide network of 19 Local Prevention and Security Boards across Turkey. These bodies bring together local officials and civil society representatives to scrutinize local law enforcement concerns and identify local risks, paying special attention to the needs of vulnerable groups, with the aim of preventing crimes before they happen. These 19 boards number 600 members in all, including representatives of 133 different NGOs. So far, the boards have prepared 425 local security action plans and mapped out 4,250 planned activities, half of them dedicated to raising public awareness.

In addition, the programme supported the preparation of draft legislation to establish a National Crime Prevention Office that will serve as an umbrella institution to support and coordinate the work of the Local Prevention and Security Boards. It is expected that this new legislation could be adopted as soon as 2022.

“Civilian oversight can seem like an abstract concept,” said UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton. “Our partners work through this programme has helped to translate that idea into a tangible reality, particularly at the local level, where citizens now have a clear channel to voice their concerns about safety and security and alert local law enforcement to urgent community needs, including those of groups most likely to fall victim to crimes. Establishing a structure in which citizens can help set policing priorities is a big step towards crime prevention.”

Another major focus of the programme was to support the Ministry of Interior in aligning with EU standards for civilian oversight, by providing assistance in drafting and revising legislation, adapting institutional structures and training personnel. “The European Union is committed to supporting Turkey’s security sector reform,” said Alexander Fricke from the EU Delegation to Turkey. “Transparency and accountability are core principles for the EU, and this initiative has helped to create a legislative and institutional framework that reflects these principles.”

Drawing on extensive national and international expertise, the final phase of the programme helped to refine national legislation to give civilians a voice in oversight over police and law enforcement; conducted awareness-raising activities at local and national levels; provided training to 500 members of the internal security forces and government officials; and organized 128 events attended by 7,223 persons aimed at involving deputy governors and bringing the concept of civilian oversight to the local level. Parliamentary oversight was also assured through the involvement of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey as a key partner alongside the Ministry of Interior.

For more information on the initiative: sivilgozetim.org.tr

Contact Information: Faik Uyanık, UNDP Türkiye, faik.uyanik@undp.org