Judicial reform starts with disputed rulings

Judicial reform starts with disputed rulings

Judicial reform starts with disputed rulings

Deputy Prime Minister Atalay. AA photo

Around 10,000 people currently held in jail although not convicted of crimes will be released, thanks to a recently adopted legal arrangement extending the scope of judicial control measures, Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay has said.

“This is a progressive step for democratization. I consider it important, as it is one of the latest laws of the current legislative year. Specially authorized courts have been abolished. The methodology of the investigation section before a case is opened has particularly changed. Arrests and trials [conducted with the suspect] under arrest have almost become an exceptional practice with this law,” Atalay told reporters in Ankara yesterday, referring to the recently adopted third judicial reform package. “A new judicial control mechanism has been installed, so according to our estimates 10,000 people will benefit from the judicial control mechanism and will leave prison. It has also sped up the trial process,” Atalay said.

The reform also raised hope for the eight jailed deputies, who were elected while in prison in the June 12, 2011 elections. However, hours after Atalay mentioned possible releases, a Diyarbakır court rejected a demand for the release of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy İbrahim Aydın, saying the conditions for judicial control measures were not met. A Diyarbakır court’s July 7 ruling rejecting a demand for the release of another BDP deputy, Faysal Sarıyıldız, caused disappointment.

With the adoption of the reform, judges will be able to implement judicial control without a maximum limit, rather than relying on detention. While Cabinet ministers have constantly underlined the importance of judicial discretion, particularly in the situation of the arrested deputies, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) criticized the ruling Justice and Development Party (CHP) for such statements. “Judges are required to provide concrete justification for continuation of arrest; detention cannot be arbitrary. If there’s no likelihood of flight or destruction of evidence for those who are under arrest now, the courts have to release them under the law. Courts do not have the right to act arbitrarily,” CHP deputy Ali Rıza Öztürk said yesterday. According to figures provided by the Justice Ministry and valid as of June 18, there are 34,720 people under arrest in prisons.

Dialogue and terror

When reminded of calls for peace from Kurdish intellectuals, Atalay referred to a June 30 meeting between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and independent Diyarbakır deputy Leyla Zana to discuss the Kurdish issue. “We are glad that these issues are being discussed within democratic processes,” Atalay said. Voicing support for dialogue between Kurdish intellectuals and politicians, Atalay said, “The only condition is not tolerating violence and terror.” Meanwhile, Atalay said, the date chosen by the BDP for arranging a rally in Diyarbakır had drawn attention. The date coincides with the first anniversary of a deadly attack by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) in Diyarbakır’s Silvan district. It also coincides with the announcement of democratic autonomy last year.