Half of new Turkish judges and prosecutors are inexperienced: Court of Cassations head
Half of the 18,000 new judges and prosecutors appointed following Turkey’s July 2016 coup attempt to replace dismissed judicial members are inexperienced and need much more training, Court of Cassations head İsmail Rüştü Cirit has said.
“Around half of them only have two or three years of experience as judges,” Cirit told reporters during a meeting in Ankara to mark the 150th year of the court, also known as the Supreme Court of Appeals, on March 5.
The fact that 4,500 judges and prosecutors are currently being investigated in cases related to the movement of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, referred to by the authorities as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), has led to concern over the reliability of the judiciary in Turkey, he said.
“This organization, which infiltrated into our judiciary and many state institutions between 2007 and 2013 by using the law as a weapon, has caused great harm to our judiciary. This situation has been worrisome for our nation’s confidence in the law,” Cirit added.
“For example, someone who has committed thievery for 20 years may try to file a complaint against a judge, claiming that the judge is a FETÖ member. These kinds of petitions have damaged confidence [in the judiciary],” he said.
‘Judiciary is independent’
Cirit also responded to rising criticism over the state of judicial independence in Turkey, claiming that “political influence over top judicial bodies is out of the question."
“We have been criticized and it is argued that there is no judicial independence. But I have observed that with the most recent constitutional amendment, judicial independence in Turkey has been performing at its best ever level. Those who are arguing to the contrary must prove what they are claiming,” he said.
“The judiciary is independent and impartial in Turkey. It does not take any order from any authority. Article 138 of the Constitution prevents that,” Cirit added.