Deputy head of Turkey’s top judicial board says legal impartiality ‘essential’

Deputy head of Turkey’s top judicial board says legal impartiality ‘essential’

Deputy head of Turkey’s top judicial board says legal impartiality ‘essential’

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Emphasizing the importance of judicial “impartiality,” the deputy head of Turkey’s High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) has vowed not to allow any “guardianship” within the judiciary.

HSYK Deputy President Mehmet Yılmaz said on June 1 that a number of disciplinary investigations are ongoing, in an apparent reference to purges of supporters of the U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, an ally-turned-nemesis of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

“The same line will be preserved. From now on we will prevent the occupation of any group, any element of guardianship, or their coming into being,” Yılmaz said, speaking at the opening of a three-day “2017-2022 Strategic Plan Workshop” for the HSYK. 

“Impartiality is essential in every public service but for judges and prosecutors impartiality is a sine qua non. If impartiality doesn’t exist, there can be no [profession of] judges and prosecutors either,” he added. 

“We don’t have the luxury to let just any judge and prosecutor, who have lost their impartiality and who deviated from justice, be judges and prosecutors. This would be treason to the nation and to justice,” Yılmaz said. 

His remarks come at a time when judicial independence is high on Turkey’s agenda amid angry debates between the AKP and the opposition parties.

The leaders of all three opposition parties at parliament have severely criticized the heads of the country’s supreme courts for accompanying President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a recent domestic tour, saying it has openly harmed judicial independence.

Supreme Court of Appeals President İsmail Rüştü Cirit, Council of State President Zerrin Güngör and Court of Accounts President Recai Akyel all accompanied Erdoğan during his visit to the Black Sea province of Rize on May 26, as well as during a visit to the Central Anatolian province of Kırşehir on May 27.