Turkey: government moves for more control on judiciary

The draft law to be discussed tomorrow

09 January, 11:42

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

    (ANSAmed) – ANKARA - The ongoing battle between the Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Islamic Hizmet movement of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen is continuing within the judicial theater as the government has submitted a draft law to increase its control over justice at the cost of EU ire. As daily Hurriyet reports today, the move to reshape the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) came only three years after the AKP government reformed the body in line with the EU’s advice. Signed by AKP lawmakers, the draft law proposes amendments to the structure of the 22-member HSYK, the key judicial body responsible for appointments and other personnel-related issues in the judiciary. It restructures three chambers of the HSYK, while making the justice minister the sole authority able to appoint a new board and set the council’s agenda. Likewise, it also resets criteria for being selected as a member of the Supreme Court of Appeals and the Justice Academy as part of a government attempt to wrest full control over key judicial bodies. The government-initiated draft law will be discussed at a parliamentary subcommission tomorrow before being sent to the General Assembly. Responding to criticisms that the draft law violated the constitutional principle of judicial independence, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag argued the bill was in line with Article 159 of the Constitution that underlines the structure and duties of the HSYK. But the government’s draft drew strong reactions from opposition parties, EU officials and judicial bodies, which all criticized the move as a step to curb judicial independence. Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe commissioner for human rights, said the proposals to curb the HSYK’s powers represented a serious setback for the independence of the judiciary in Turkey via Twitter. (ANSAmed).

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