News / Europe

Turkish Opposition Challenges Law Tightening Grip on Judiciary

FILE - Turkish legislators from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party and the main opposition Republican People's Party brawl during a tense all-night debate over a controversial law on changes to a council that appoints and overseas judges a
FILE - Turkish legislators from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party and the main opposition Republican People's Party brawl during a tense all-night debate over a controversial law on changes to a council that appoints and overseas judges a
Reuters
Turkey's main opposition party asked the top court on Friday to overturn a law tightening government control of the judiciary, which it sees as part of efforts by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to snuff out a corruption scandal.
 
Hours after the law was enacted late on Thursday, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag appointed at least nine new senior members of the judiciary. The opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) said the law contained many violations of the constitution, and appealed to the Constitutional Court to repeal it.
 
Voice recordings posted on YouTube this week purporting to be Erdogan discussing financial matters with his son have piled pressure on him as he battles graft allegations, which pose one of the biggest challenges of his 11-year rule.
 
Erdogan has said the recordings are a “fabricated montage” and has accused U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose network of followers is believed to have built extensive influence in the police and judiciary over decades, of contriving the corruption scandal to try to unseat him.
 
The new law gives the government more control over the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), which makes top judicial appointments.
 
After a preliminary review, the Constitutional Court late on Friday asked the CHP to remedy technical errors in its paperwork and resubmit the appeal, NTV news channel reported and cited party officials as saying they would do so.
 
Erdogan had already responded to the graft investigation by dismissing or reassigning thousands of police officers and hundreds of judges and prosecutors, in what his aides acknowledge is a drive to wipe out Gulen's influence.
 
“With this law, the HSYK comes under the orders of the justice minister,” Akif Hamzacebi, a senior deputy of the Republican People's Party [CHP], told reporters.
 
“This is clearly in violation of the principles of separation of powers and the independence of courts,” he said, after filing the party's appeal.

Suspects all released
 
The corruption scandal, which Erdogan has described as an attempted “judicial coup” ahead of elections this year, erupted on December 17 with the arrest of dozens of bureaucrats and businessmen close to him, as well as three ministers' sons.
 
Prosecutors decided on Friday to release the two remaining ministers' sons and an Iranian gold dealer arrested that day, the Dogan news agency said, which will mean none of those originally detained two months ago are still being held.
 
The law on the judiciary is among several the government is pushing through parliament before local elections on March 30. It has already tightened control of the Internet and is seeking greater powers for the state intelligence agency MIT.
 
Turkey has been seeking membership of the European Union for decades, and the moves have raised concerns in Brussels that it is shifting away from EU norms.
 
The government says they are necessary to rescue judicial independence from Gulen's influence, to protect individual privacy online from the sort of recordings appearing on YouTube and to give its spy agency greater power to guard its citizens.
 
Gulen has repeatedly denied seeking to pull the levers of state power.
 
President Abdullah Gul, who approved the judiciary law on Wednesday, has said his objections secured last-minute changes to the bills addressing some of the concerns. But the opposition still disputes their legality.
 
Hamzacebi called on the Constitutional Court to suspend the implementation of the HSYK law to prevent staff being removed from their posts, as envisaged by the legislation.
 
Around 1,000 unelected staff, including its secretary-general, inspectors, audit judges and administrative staff, could lose their jobs or be reassigned as a result of the law, according to media reports.
 
Bozdag appointed five new deputy general secretaries, a new head of the HSYK's supervisory board and three supervisory board members on Friday. He also named a new head of the Justice Academy, where members of the judiciary receive training.

You May Like

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More