Controversy between Turkish government, top court rages on
The Constitutional Court head Haşim Kılıç responded to criticism from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, saying the top court is only doing its job. AA Photo
The controversy surrounding the Constitutional Court’s partial overturning of a controversial judicial bill has continued, with the head of the top court refuting the prime minister’s recent claims that he and the body are interfering in politics.
In an explanation which was released by daily Milliyet on April 13, the Constitutional Court head Haşim Kılıç responded to criticism from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, saying the top court is only doing its job.
“We are doing our job,” Kılıç told daily Milliyet, brushing the political controversy aside after the recent Constitutional Court decisions that have irked Erdoğan. “We are doing our duty in the framework of the Constitution.”
On April 11, the Constitutional Court partly overturned the controversial Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) bill, which gave the justice minister increased competences and was drafted by the government amid the graft allegations.
Erdoğan and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ criticized the Constitutional Court, with the former claiming that Kılıç to made his decisions with “political motivations.”
“If someone wants to be involved with politics, then he should get out his chair, take off his judge’s robe and start doing politics,” Erdoğan said on April 12.
That is not the first time that the government has lashed out at the Constitutional Court recently, with the top court’s ruling to unblock Twitter on April 2 drawing a similar reaction from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) well.
Erdoğan said they were obliged to abide by the Constitutional Court decision to unblock the micro-blogging website, but made it clear that he “does not respect the ruling.” He had been campaigning against the popular social media website a few weeks before the March 30 local elections, and the country’s telecommunications watchdog TİB issued a ban on the site only hours after Erdoğan vowed to “eradicate Twitter.”
The prime minister touched on the issue again on April 12, criticizing the Constitutional Court for “defending international companies instead of defending the rights of its own country and own individuals.”
Kılıç also responded to Justice Minister Bozdağ’s criticism about the Court moving the review of the HSYK bill to an earlier date.
“That is not true. The court’s agenda is prepared a week before and sent to the members. The HSYK bill was on the agenda,” he said.
Responding to another criticism that the HSYK bill was not enclosed in the top court’s website, Kılıç said they were not putting some controversial items on the website, which made it easier for the members to work on issues without being swayed.
“It has been apparent that until today there was nothing that forced the president of the Constitutional Court and the Court to take this issue onto the agenda. However, as far as it is understood, other things required our honorable president to urgently take this issue onto the agenda,” Bozdağ had said, criticizing Kılıç.
“I don’t approve of the fact that the Court is found at the center of political debates. I hope we can keep the Court far from the country’s agenda,” he added.