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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid