International Association of Judges expresses concern for Turkey’s judiciary
ROMEThe International Association of Judges (IAJ) has published an appeal regarding the situation of the judiciary in Turkey, citing a recent report by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission that noted Turkey’s proposed constitutional changes were a big setback for democracy.
“The IAJ is concerned that the already oppressed judiciary will be turned into a totally depended instrument of power. The Venice Commission confirms the IAJ’s fears,” the appeal said, adding that the association had been following “the deterioration of the situation of the judiciary in Turkey since 2014.”
“After the attempted coup, it dismissed judges who had been put on a list long before the coup without giving reasons for the individual case and without proper procedure. In such a way since July 15, 2016, 24.4 percent of all judges (2,538 out of 10,382) and 24.3 percent of all prosecutors (1,121 out of 4,622) were dismissed, the majority of whom are in detention. The example of this destiny threatens those judges and prosecutors who remained in office or were recently appointed without sufficient experience. It is more than doubtful that a judiciary in this situation can be [described] as independent,” the association said.
Referring to the Venice Commission report, the IAJ said the commission concluded that the amendments “would place the independence of the judiciary at serious jeopardy” because of the “determining influence of the president on the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), which is the main self-governing body, overseeing the appointment, promotion, transfer, disciplining and dismissal of judges and prosecutors.”
“This appeal in no ways is directed against the Turkish people or the Turkish nation, but it is based on the worries of the IAJ that Turkey might lose its own fundamental values that it shared with other democratic societies. Following the Opinion of the Venice Commission and the ‘Open Letter’ of the European Association of Judges published a few days ago, the International Association of Judges considers that such a development would end the rule of law in a country which had a democratic tradition, which its people manifested in the united and brave defense of the terrible attack of July 15,” it said, referring to the July 15, 2016, failed coup attempt.