Marching for justice

Marching for justice

The government is reacting, but main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s “justice march” is at least shedding light on the concepts of law and the judiciary. 

The reaction of the government does not go any further than the usual polemics and accusations. “They are walking on the roads that we have built; let them take the train, it’s faster; they are walking together with terrorists,” are such accusations. They do not actually go to the “core.”

This is not too surprising either because in our country no government has dealt with matters on law and justice as serious issues with high values. At all times, the yearning for law and justice have been voiced when in opposition, in other words when weak, but then law and justice turn into political tools once in government. 

Of course, there have been advancements but if we still have not become a “rule of law” state today, the fundamental reason is that our deeply-rooted political culture regards politics superior to justice. 

Esteemed historian Şükrü Hanioğlu summed up our history on this topic. According to Hanioğlu, first it was the Muslim judges (kadı) would select among various fatwas and rulings, thus there would be very different rulings on the same matter. Then, the political reforms (Tanzimat) made in the Ottoman State in 1839 conveyed the idea of “law” against this. Instead of drawing conclusions from fatwas, standard “law” texts were provided to judges. The practice of the idea of “law” strengthened during the Ottoman era and the republic after these 1839 reforms. 

This is of course a very important development. But as Hanioğlu wrote in daily Sabah on July 2, “There have not been serious advancements in the materialization of separation of powers and the prevention of the political power’s influence on justice. As a matter of fact, during the republic era, the idea of the rule of law has not been emphasized even theoretically.” 

Hanioğlu argues that the yearning for law and justice observed in Turkey today should not be viewed through the lenses of the government and opposition but through the lenses of law. “Instead of the government-opposition relationship, it would be meaningful to evaluate it in a wide context covering a long period. When this is done, the necessity will emerge for a true separation of powers practice in Turkey and the end to the centuries-long dominance of the political power on justice,” he argues.  

This is the vital issue: In the Turkey of the 21st century, the separation of powers is still on paper. The indispensable condition to solve judicial problems is to end the centuries-long dominance of governments on the judiciary.  

It can be said that the motive of “wearing out the government” is dominant in the words and actions of the opposition. In the words and actions of the government, the motive is “further strengthening” its dominance. However, we cannot cure the judiciary’s wounds, which are still bleeding in Turkey, with the above motives. This is the reason anyway that it has been bleeding all along history and that only the wounded parts have changed. 

If we are genuine in judiciary and law, if we are not after using these high values as political tools, then the solution is obvious: To move the separation of powers from “on paper” to real life. In other words, a new constitution in this direction, judicial administrative laws and the legal guarantee of judges at the universal level… Also, the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) should be formed in line with the Venice criteria. Also, amendments should be made in the penal code to reintroduce the criminalization of “giving orders and instructions to the judiciary.”

Can you see how much work has to be done to have a trustworthy justice system and leave no need to search for justice on the roads?  

Let us see whether the government, which is angry at the “justice march,” will take a step toward this direction.