New judicial year launched amid public confidence concerns on justice
The public has lost its confidence in the judicial system when the post-coup attempt crackdown on the Fethullah Gülen network has revealed that a third of the judicial members were affiliated with illegal acts, the head of the Supreme Court of Appeals has said.
Speaking at the judicial year opening ceremony on Sept. 5 in Ankara, İsmail Rüştü Cirit vowed to carry out judicial processes against the coup plotters within the principles of democracy.
“Although the dismissal of judges and prosecutors who are members of terrorist organizations is an utmost achievement, the fact that about one third of judges and prosecutors were in the middle of terrorist activities have made people lose confidence in the judicial system,” Cirit said.
“Even the possibility that members of a profession which the public should trust most, acting in line with the goals of a terror organization, is by itself enough for the public to be surprised and shaken,” Cirit said.
“Judicial independence cannot be achieved in a system where the public does not have trust in the judiciary,” he added.
Judicial members to be tried within principle of law
Defining terror as the biggest obstacle to democracy, Cirit devoted his opening speech to fight against terror.
Stating that the coup d’états in Turkey’s history have damaged Turkey’s democracy, “in those times, our judicial authorities had not given a good account of themselves,” said Cirit.
“The top judicial authorities have especially been silent about illegal activities. Apart from being silent, they supported those activities, legitimizing them,” he said.
He added that the judicial process for judicial members accused of affiliation with illegal activities will be tried within the principle of law.
“We do not owe anything but [to serve] justice to those who have used their judicial authorities in accordance with the aims of a particular terrorist organization. There will be no doubt that a fair trial of those people will be ensured, that the punishment will be within the boundaries of our law and that public order will be established,” he said.
“Our duty is not to act out of emotion, fury or prejudice, but to make decisions in accordance with objective evidence without making any concessions to the human rights standards that the Turkish legal system has developed and raised in the last years,” he added.
Extradition of FETÖ members
Cirit said that refusing to extradite the members of FETÖ that had fled abroad prevented clarification of the coup attempt.
“Not extraditing fugitive FETÖ members constitutes some obstacles to the emergence of the truth in investigations,” Cirit said.
“I would like to emphasize that the countries who do not extradite fugitives but guard them should respect the law themselves,” he said.
Union of Turkish Bar Associations criticized opening ceremony
Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) Head Metin Fevzioğlu criticized not having the floor to speak at the judicial year opening ceremony.
“TBB was not invited to speak at the judicial year opening ceremony in an arbitrary manner. Indeed, this is an attempt to silence people,” Fevzioğlu said.
“The TBB will continue to speak the truth and will never be silent,” he said.
“This situation has become so dangerous that it threatens the Turkish Republic’s survival,” said Fevzioğlu, stating that confidence in the justice system had been a record low in Turkey.
“The judicial mechanism that should differentiate criminal and innocent, wrongful and rightful, is in a snafu state,” he said.
Commenting on Cirit’s remarks on the extradition of FETÖ members, “extradition can only be provided if we [Turkey] have an impartial and independent judiciary,” said Fevzioğlu.
“Our reputation in foreign policy can only be promoted if we can ensure the judicial safety of our own people,” he added.