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

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.