Turkey poised to announce reform package soon

Turkey poised to announce reform package soon

It has been more than two months since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that the government would outline crucial reform packages on the economy and judiciary. In a statement this week, Erdoğan said works on the reforms are almost ready to be made public.

Senior officials from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have said a draft of the Human Rights Action Plan was submitted to Erdoğan and that further deliberations on the blueprint will take place during a meeting next week of the AKP’s central executive body.

Although the timing is not certain, Erdoğan is expected to unveil the reform package in the coming weeks. The government is also planning to resume the Reform Action Group in early February to discuss the future steps it will take on the way to harmonizing the country’s acquis with that of the European Union.

The last two months have shown that undertaking radical steps to ensure judicial impartiality and independence is urgent. Two solid examples illustrate the situation.

On Dec. 22, 2020, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) demanded the immediate release of one of the former co-chairs of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, on the grounds that his rights had been violated under five different categories. Local courts in Turkey have not abided by the ECHR’s ruling in violation of Article 90 of the Turkish Constitution and Article 46 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

On Jan. 21, Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled – for the second time – that the rights of former oppositional lawmaker Enis Berberoğlu, who lost his parliamentary immunity and his seat in parliament due to an ongoing court case against him, were breached.

Under normal conditions, the local court that oversaw Berberoğlu’s case would have to obey the top court’s verdict and direct parliament to restore his parliamentary status. Or the Parliamentary Speaker’s Office would have to take action following the top court’s move. None of this has happened.

The latter example concerned Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül, who is responsible for the smooth and fair execution of the judicial system in Turkey as well. Speaking to reporters on Jan. 22, Gül said: “The decisions made by the Constitutional Court are binding. Rulings are there to be enforced.”

That exposes how urgent and crucial reforming the judicial system is. It’s known that Turkey has consulted with both the European Union and the Council of Europe while drafting its reforms. One should, therefore, anticipate that the incoming reforms will be in line with the principles of the said organizations, as well as with the case laws of the ECHR.

Both Erdoğan and Gül have drawn attention to the inevitable link between creating an appropriate investment climate and justice in their past statements. They have also admitted the importance of implementing reforms to make the aforementioned link a real and strong one.

For this very reason, all eyes will be on the government’s announcement of the reform package and its implementation.