Bailiffs to stop ‘seizing’ children in custody cases in Turkey: Ministry

Bailiffs to stop ‘seizing’ children in custody cases in Turkey: Ministry

Ceylan Sever - ISTANBUL

Metin Ç. (R) and his daughter Yağmur

Turkey’s Family, Labor and Social Services Ministry has announced that the controversial practice of having bailiffs seize children like property in child custody cases will soon be abolished. 

The ministry’s Aug. 30 statement came days after footage of a terrified girl and her father resisting bailiffs in Istanbul’s Bağcılar district triggered uproar on social media.

The 10-year-old girl, identified only as Yağmur, spent a month with her father as part of the man’s divorce agreement with his ex-wife.

However, when the time was up, the girl refused to return to her mother, claiming that she was beating her up, which prompted the woman to apply to the court to enforce the agreement.

As a result, the bailiffs came to the father’s house and took away the child to be delivered to her mother, causing the disturbing scene which has become too familiar in Turkey in recent years.

The chief public prosecutor’s office in the Bakırköy district said in a statement on Aug. 30 that the bailiffs were moved on as instructed by the court after the mother’s plea, and the practice was legal, albeit unpleasant.

As public uproar continued, the ministry announced that a new bill about the issue will be a top priority in parliament when this year’s sessions begin next month.

According to the new bill, relations with a child amid custody battles between parents will be overseen by the state through specialized “delivery” centers and psychologists.

Bailiffs, whose main responsibility is to seize property as per laws, will be out of the legal system regarding child custody cases.