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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs