Independent courts at risk, says top Turkish judge
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News | 9/6/2010 12:00:00 AM |
The head of the country’s second-highest court has criticized the judiciary-related articles of the proposed constitutional amendments set for a Sept 12 vote.
In a much-anticipated annual address, the head of the country’s second-highest court has criticized the judiciary-related articles of the proposed constitutional amendments set for a Sept. 12 vote, saying they violate the separation of powers.
“The judiciary is no one’s backyard. Never has been and never will be,” Hasan Gerçeker, head of the Supreme Court of Appeals, said Monday at a ceremony marking the start of the 2010-2011 judicial year.
Reiterating previously expressed concerns at the ceremony, Gerçeker said the principle of the separation of powers was one of the unalterable articles of the Constitution.
“This article safeguards the superiority of laws, basic rights and freedoms as well as the social and secular rule of law,” he said. “With the constitutional amendments, the conflict between the courts and the executive power will increase, as the amendments ignore the courts’ will and cut their authority within the judiciary.”
Gerçeker said court decisions should be respected and obeyed even if they are disliked.
Top members of the Turkish judiciary had previously leveled harsh criticism at the government-led constitutional amendments in conversations with the justice minister during the process of preparing the package, saying the changes targeted the judiciary. The country will vote on the proposed amendment in a referendum Sept. 12.
In recent remarks, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the judiciary, in particular the Council of State, had blocked many of the bills the government had proposed.
Indirectly referring to Erdoğan’s claims that there is a judicial tutelage, or guardianship, in Turkey, Gerçeker said it is incorrect and unfair to depict the judiciary as an “internal threat” and define its role as “tutelage.”
“Some members of the Council of State and all members of the Supreme Court of Appeals are elected from the higher courts, taking their qualities into consideration,” Gerçeker said.
Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin, who was present at the ceremony Monday, left the hall after the event without shaking Gerçeker’s hand. Ergin likewise only shook the hand of Constitutional Court President Haşim Kılıç when entering the hall.