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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid