The grave situation of justice in Turkey

The grave situation of justice in Turkey

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç had said of the mysterious Twitter user identified as Fuat Avni, “If what he says turns out to be true, then it is a grave situation.”

On the morning of Dec. 14, it was understood that they were indeed true and indeed grave.

According to Fuat Avni, there are others in line too. Who they are isn't clear. This indefiniteness is one of the signs where justice is going in Turkey; in a state of law, there is no such indefiniteness. If people see the future as indefinite and are concerned, then it means that justice has suffered a major blow.

We do not know the content of the file about our colleagues Ekrem Dumanlı, Hidayet Karaca and others, but the procedure used prompts concerns that justice is guided by politics. The method applied gives an idea of what kind of basis the government, which holds the executive and legislative powers, is trying to reach.

Look at this: Dumanlı visited Istanbul Chief Prosecutor Hadi Salihoğlu on Dec. 12. The honest prosecutor Salihoğlu told Dumanlı and his friends that there was “no investigation” ongoing against them. There is also a written document showing this.

Thus, the investigation must have been prepared without the knowledge of the chief prosecutor. As a matter of fact, this government, following the Dec. 17 and 25 investigations of 2013, changed the Judicial Police Regulation and introduced a clause that in all investigations not only the chief prosecutor, but also the governor and the head of the security department (in other words, the government), must be notified.

There is a concrete aim in all the appointments that the Justice Ministry made the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) do after the Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 operations, in all of the changes in regulations, and in all of the jigsaw puzzle laws that it passed: To block the investigations that the government does not want and to facilitate the investigations it does want.  

Immediately after the Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 probes, on Feb. 21, 2014, Article 116 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CMK) was changed, and the “strong suspicion” condition started to be examined. The Dec. 17 and 25 investigations were blocked and those files were dropped with a lack of grounds for legal action.

Later, Article 116 of the CMK changed to make “reasonable doubt” grounds for investigation. The president approved it on Dec. 12 and it was printed in the Official Gazette.

This means that an investigation file was prepared without the knowledge of the chief prosecutor; it was kept until the law was published in the Official Gazette. When the law was printed, the investigation file was submitted to the chief prosecutor, who ordered the operation on Dec. 13. The operation was conducted on the morning of Dec. 14. This means there was no strong suspicion based on concrete evidence, but only “reasonable doubt,” right?

Those decisions at the arrest and search phases of the investigation used to be made by the Criminal Court of Peace on duty; objections could be made to one court higher.

This was changed on June 30; Criminal Courts of Peace were formed. It was arranged at the First Department of the HSYK that certain judges were appointed to these positions. Now, searches and arrests are decided by these judges.

In the “nth” justice package that went into effect on Dec. 12, internal procedures of high courts, their departments and heads of departments were changed, new members will be appointed by HSYK.

As we can see, if courts, judges, prosecutors and the laws to be applied are changed according to the political stance of the government like a jigsaw puzzle, then a “grave” picture emerges, creating serious concerns for freedom of the press and independence of the judiciary.