Bar association bill goes to general assembly for discussions
A controversial bill to permit Turkey’s bar associations to split into smaller groups was submitted to Parliament’s General Assembly on July 8 for discussions before a final vote.
The 28-article bill proposes changes to the Lawyers’ Act, as well as other laws that regulate the duties of lawyers and the formation of bar associations. The bill was introduced by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and supported by its main ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), while all the other opposition parties announced their opposition to the changes. The bar associations, which also oppose the proposed regulations, have vowed to continue to protest the drafted bill.
Bülent Turan, the deputy group chair of the AKP, refuted suggestions on July 8 that the amendment would “marginalize” bar associations.
“Aren’t some of them marginal right now?” he told reporters, referring to a statement from the Ankara Bar Association in May that criticized the chair of the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), Ali Erbaş, for his remarks on homosexuality.
The opposition says: “When this law is passed, organizations such as the PKK and FETÖ will be able to establish bar associations. If anyone commits a crime under these laws, they will give an account for that,” Turan said.
According to the proposal, 2,000 lawyers will be able to form their own bar association in provinces with more than 5,000 lawyers by submitting a petition signed by four founding members to the Turkey Bar Association. In essence, that could mean the formation of 25 different bar associations in Istanbul, 10 in Ankara and five in Izmir. In order to avoid confusion, the bar associations will be enumerated in cities in which multiple associations exist