Human Rights Watch urges President Gül to veto judiciary bill
President Abdullah Gül has received many calls to intervene in laws passed by Parliament lately. He eventually approved a contentious recent bill on the Internet, despite being urged both inside and outside Turkey to use his veto authority. AA photoHuman Rights Watch has called on Turkish President Abdullah Gül to veto a controversial judiciary bill that was approved by the Parliament last week.
On Feb. 15, Parliament passed comprehensive amendments to the existing law on the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), giving the justice minister, who already heads the council, more direct control over the body and a stronger role in its decision-making. The changes will increase the likelihood of judges and prosecutors being disciplined or reassigned at the behest of the government.
“Turkey’s new judiciary law means just one thing and that is greater government control over the judiciary. For the sake of the rule of law in Turkey, President Gül should veto the new law,” said Emma Sinclair-Webb, senior Turkey researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“The minister’s – and thus the government’s – control over the inspection board is the most alarming part of the new law on the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors. This is a major tool for a government to control the High Council, and ultimately the judiciary,” Sinclair-Webb added.
The bill has also drawn a fierce reaction from the opposition, as well as the European Union, with concerns that the government aims to tighten its grip on the judiciary.
The government’s move to control the board came after a corruption and bribery investigation involving ministers’ sons and the head of a state-run bank. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly called the investigation a conspiracy against his government, and has overseen a purge that has seen thousands of police officers and scores of prosecutors being demoted and reassigned over the past two months.