The problem of the judiciary, again

The problem of the judiciary, again

Trust in the judiciary is one of Turkey’s old problems. Only the sides change according to different periods. I used to write articles about problems in the judiciary, and today I am writing yet another one with the same title.

Do you see the continuity in the problem?

For many years there has been interference against judicial independence, in contradiction to the principle of the separation of powers.

The phone conversation between the prime minister and the justice minister about a case involving the Doğan Group is just an outer reflection of this general problem.

Yesterday, the military and Erdoğan’s opponents were trying to use the judicial power to convict him. Today, only the sides that are concerned about pressure on the judiciary have changed. That’s why trust in the judiciary and its independence is as important as bread and butter to Turkey.

The executive can’t interfere in the judiciary

In the Doğan case, the final acquittal decision was made by a new judge on the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK). The prime minister, who seems to have monitored the case from the beginning, tells the justice minister: “The Capital Markets Board [SPK] is very sensitive. It says they should be convicted.” And he then tells the minister to follow the case closely!

But in a country with the rule of law there is nothing a prime minister or justice minister can do about an ongoing case. Only the judiciary decides who is a criminal and who is not, who is right and who is not - not the executive or the legislative branches.

If there have been some “ugly” developments in the case, as was claimed by the prime minister, then the HSYK should start an examination, and prosecutors should start an investigation. The executive can never say: “They need to be convicted.”

The final verdict belongs to the judiciary

The case is now waiting at the general assembly of the Court of Cessation. As has been said by Sadullah Ergin (the former justice minister), “the general assembly is quite crowded.” There shouldn’t be any influence that can take the case from its judicial context.

I trust the members of the Court of Cessation. At any rate, the judicial process does not end there in our country. There is the possibility of individual application to the Constitutional Court and then the European Court of Human Rignts. Therefore, a lot of damage can come out of interference in the judiciary, but at the end of the day the final verdict is always given by the judiciary. If some in Turkey concerned about the existence of the Gülen “Cemaat” in the judiciary, there are also some in Turkey concerned about the interference of the government in the judiciary. Especially with the latest amendments to the HSYK it has become easier to for the executive to influence the judiciary. This is being said by European Union officials as well.

The latest voice recordings have not been refuted by the prime minister. On the contrary, he defended himself. As such, there is no doubt that concerns about executive interference in the judiciary have increased in society.