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

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web 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.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs