News / Europe

Turkey’s Plan to Reform Judiciary Draws Rebuke

FILE - Demonstrators rally against Turkey's ruling AK Party and demand the resignation of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara Dec. 27, 2013.FILE - Demonstrators rally against Turkey's ruling AK Party and demand the resignation of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara Dec. 27, 2013.
x
FILE - Demonstrators rally against Turkey's ruling AK Party and demand the resignation of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara Dec. 27, 2013.
FILE - Demonstrators rally against Turkey's ruling AK Party and demand the resignation of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara Dec. 27, 2013.
Dorian Jones
The Turkish government has approved controversial plans to reform the country's top judicial body. The government wants the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors to come under greater justice ministry control. But the reform plan is drawing growing national and international criticism.
 
In a message posted on Twitter Monday, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks described the Turkish government’s judicial reform plan as a regression. The new law, which was rushed through parliament, gives the justice minister greater control over the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors.
 
Riza Turmen, a former European Court judge who is now a member of the Turkish parliament for the opposition Republican People’s Party, says the reform ends the separation of powers between the government and judiciary.
 
"It will be the end of the independence of the judiciary in Turkey, because the high judiciary council, they appoint all the judges, they decide about the transfer of judges, they decide about disciplinary sanctions. What will happen now: [in] all the important political cases, the high judiciary council will appoint judges who share the same political views with the government and the prosecutors will be the same," says Turman.
 
The controversial legal reforms come with the government mired in corruption allegations. Last December, prosecutors launched wide-ranging graft probes that resulted in three ministers resigning. The government then reassigned hundreds of prosecutors and police - a move which, critics claim, have brought the probes to a virtual standstill.
 
Political scientist Nuray Mert of Istanbul University says the judicial reform law casts a shadow over the government's claim that it is seeking to democratize the country.
     
"Everybody knows the purpose [of the government's maneuver] is try to secure itself from the corruption cases, and to enforce its total control over the judiciary," says Mert.

Political games

The government insists the corruption probes are politically motivated, and blames followers of Fetullah Gulen, a Turkish Islamic spiritual leader who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States.
 
Osman Can, a former judge who is now a member of the ruling AK Party’s Central Committee, says legal reform is needed to end the control of the judiciary by Gulen followers.
 
"The high council of judges and prosecutors [is] under the control of the Gulenists - everyone knows that, we know the people by their names. So that’s why it’s finally, at the end, a struggle about democracy," says Can.
 
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan strongly defended the controversial reform during recent visits to Brussels and Berlin. But while the new law has received plaudits in Europe for its abolition of special courts, which have been widely criticized by human rights groups, concerns over the legislation is continuing to grow both nationally and internationally.
 
Cengiz Aktar of the Istanbul Policy Forum warns the law is a serious setback to Turkey's European Union bid.
 
"It would mean Turkey is definitely regressing. There is no one single type high council of judges in the EU, but all existing high councils are protecting or making sure that the judiciary is independent as much as possible from the government," says Aktar.
 
Critics of the law are calling on Turkish President Abdullah Gul to veto the law. But the president, an AK Party founding member, has been reluctant to exercise his veto power.
 
The parliamentary opposition parties have said they will send the law to the constitutional court for it to be overturned. But observers point out even if the court accepts the case, it will likely take months to rule on the law, which will come into effect during that period, allowing the government to reshape the judiciary.

You May Like

Photogallery Kyiv: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins 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.
Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Weeki
X
August 29, 2014 2:18 AM
The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid