Bill restructuring judicial body potential cause of concern for foreign investors, TÜSİAD chair says
Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) head Muharrem Yılmaz speaks during the group's general asembly meeting in Istanbul, Jan 23. DHA photoA controversial judicial bill increasing the executive’s control on the judiciary could “raise questions” for foreign investors, the head of Turkey’s top business group has said, expressing concerns about the government’s handling of the ongoing corruption allegations.
“A picture that shows Turkey cannot deal with serious graft claims through the law will raise questions over ‘which world does Turkey belong to’ in countries investing here. Can you accept this?” Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) head Muharrem Yılmaz said on Jan. 23.
Speaking during TÜSİAD’s general assembly meeting, Yılmaz emphasized the efforts made to turn Turkey into a “prestigious country” were being seriously undermined by the new set of government-led draft bills, particularly citing the law that will reshape the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) and the one that will curb internet freedoms.
“We feel much discomfort regarding the draft bill that will reshape the HSYK. The conflict that we have seen in recent days is an attempt to overcome [the crisis stemming from the graft probes] by increasing the influence of the executive over the judiciary,” Yılmaz said, urging the government to adopt new legislation in line with European criteria.
“The solution is for the independence of the judiciary and constitutional reform based on the Copenhagen criteria …. The problem has turned into a conflict between political organs. We cannot solve it by increasing pressure,” he added.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) justified its steps as a move against a “parallel state,” which it accused of orchestrating damaging graft probes against the government.
Yılmaz reiterated TÜSİAD’s concerns regarding the political feud between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the movement of the Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, whose followers are known to hold key positions within the police and the judiciary.
“The fact that organizations outside the political sphere try to influence politics through state institutions is troubling us. The laws that are being prepared one after another are making us waver,” Yılmaz said, also expressing warnings that the laws would “hinder social unity.”
Internet law ‘a dark cloud’
Yımaz also described a fresh law on the Internet that gives the head of Turkey’s Directorate of Telecommunication (TİB) enough authority to directly limit access, pending a court ruling, as a “dark cloud” that will engulf freedoms.
“The omnibus bill is gradually turning into a legal arrangement that will raise censorship of the Internet. We believe this draft arrangement should be changed with a [bill] that contains the freedom of expression criteria defined by the European Court of Human Rights,” he said.