News / Middle East

Turkey's Embattled Government Seeks to Limit Judiciary's Powers

FILE - Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference.
FILE - Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference.
TEXT SIZE - +
Dorian Jones
— Turkey’s Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors on Friday condemned government proposals to curb its powers, calling them unconstitutional.

The proposed reforms come after prosecutors launched corruption investigations targeting people close to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, including the sons of three cabinet ministers.

The board, which controls Turkey’s judges and prosecutors, made its comments in a 66-page statement as the parliament began debating the plan, which would give the government greater say over the membership of the board of judges and its decisions. Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag defended the plan, saying it was about making the judiciary accountable.

The move comes with the government mired in judicial investigations into alleged high-level corruption. Prime Minister Erdogan claims the probes are part of international-led conspiracy. Government members say its former ally, Islamic scholar Fetullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States, is behind the conspiracy, using a network of his supporters in the judiciary.

Sinan Ulgen of the Istanbul-based Edam think tank says that a struggle between the government and Gulen followers is behind the government's proposed judicial reforms.

"The inclination of the government is to get rid of the Gulen network within the judiciary.  That is certainly not [a] structural measure that would allow the full independence of judiciary in Turkey," said Ulgen.

Since the start of the corruption investigations, the government has reassigned over a thousand police officers and key prosecutors involved in the probes. Those firings and the proposed legal reforms have led the European Union, which Turkey seeks to join, to voice concern over threats to the independence of the Turkish judiciary.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Thursday that Washington is following the situation in Turkey closely.

"We continue to make clear that the United States supports the desire of the Turkish people for a legal system that meets the highest standards of fairness, timeliness and transparency in civil and criminal matters where no one is above the law and where allegations against public figures are investigated impartially," said Psaki.

Despite such concerns, the Turkish government, which has a large parliamentary majority, says it is determined to push the reforms through. But experts warn a new battle could be looming between the government and the judiciary because the judicial reform could be overturned by the constitutional court. The only other route open to the government would be to amend the constitution, which would need the support of one of the main opposition parties in order to secure a required two-thirds parliamentary majority.

Earlier this month, Erdogan opened the door to introducing legislation to allow the retrial of hundreds of senior military figures convicted of trying to overthrow his government, claiming they may have been the victims of a plot by rogue prosecutors. The retrial of the generals is a key demand of the main opposition Republican People's Party.

But political scientist Cengiz Aktar of the Istanbul Policy Forum doubts the prime minister will be able make a deal with the opposition.

"I think they will be left by themselves if they want to scrap the autonomy, the relative autonomy of the Judges High Council. He [Erdogan] can’t sell it to anyone; no one will vote with them in the parliament. No one will go that far; that will look very very awkward," said Aktar.
 
For now, all the leaders of the main opposition parties have ruled out any deal with the government, accusing it of trying to escape the ongoing corruption probes. Earlier this week, new probes were launched against key state institutions.

But analyst Ulgen says the current crisis underlines the urgent need for judicial reform.

"If the government does not seize that opportunity, and if the political opposition does not push for that in a much clearer way, then Turkey’s judiciary will continue (to be a) problematic pillar of Turkish democracy. And it will continue the lose the confidence of Turkish citizens," he said.

Observers say political consensus seems unlikely, given that the opposition believes the government is on the defensive over the corruption allegations, with local and national elections set to take place this year and next.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid