The issue of justice
We understand from the speech our prime minister delivered to our ambassadors that the government is preparing to prioritize the 100th anniversary of the First World War against the Armenian lobby activities for 2015.
I find this correct. Different results come out of presenting the tragic incidents of 1915 as “Turks started massacring out of the blue” and approaching this incident within the context of the catastrophes of the First World War.
In the same speech, the prime minister reiterated his known “parallel state” discourse and emphasized, “They are using every way to intimidate international investors.”
However, for the government to be credible from the perspective of the confidence of investors and also from the diplomatic angle, it has to eliminate the concerns it created on the independence of the justice.
Among members of the judiciary themselves, the concern that executive is intervening with the justice branch is becoming widespread. According to a recent survey conducted by “adalet.org” website, only 19 of the participating judges and prosecutors find the last reassignment of the prosecutors done by the HSYK positive. For various reasons, the rate of those who find them negative, as well as an intervention is 81 percent.
It was indeed a decree that was against legal practices.
The total rate of judges and prosecutors who say the structure of the HSYK should continue is 79 percent. Those who say, “This board cannot contribute to the independence of the judiciary; it has to change” is only 21 percent.
Only 6.4 percent of judges and prosecutors think the bill submitted to Parliament for the government to make an operation on the HSYK is right; 89 percent consider it an intervention with the justice system. Some 4.6 percent have not declared an opinion.
Ninety percent of the participating judges and prosecutors consider the reassignment of police directors, “obstructing the investigation and interfering with the judiciary.”
Can you see how different the executive and judicial powers think? Not only this survey… The government swiftly changed the “Judicial Police Regulation,” enabling police directors to be effective in investigative affairs and the HSYK issued a statement on Dec. 26 declaring this was against the Constitution. The government continues referring to this as the “illegal declaration.”
However, 80 percent of judges and prosecutors see this declaration as “the defense of the independence of the judiciary.” Moreover, the Council of State and General Assembly of Case Departments have also rejected the government’s objection on this matter.
To say the “Community” is influencing these acts is not persuasive… It does not work… Here, in the criticisms from the European Union, there are warnings regarding the “independence of the judiciary” with strong expressions.
Could the reason of these reactions be because of being scared of major investments like the “third bridge, the third airport…”?
There could indeed be some European companies and establishments that do not want these projects built due to competitive sentiments, but it is far from convincing to associate these projects to a topic like “independence of the judiciary.”
Look, the EU Progress Reports had applauded the amendments introduced through the 2010 referendum, a year when our economy was much more dynamic, as “a significant step taken toward the direction of judicial independence.”
Now, it would indeed draw reactions and shake confidence to say those reforms were a mistake and make judiciary inspectors dependent on the Justice Minister.
Judicial independence is vitally important, both to have a say and to build confidence in the investors, in the years 2014 and 2015 against the storms likely to erupt in world politics.
Taha Akyol is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on Jan 20. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.