Witch-hunt in the judiciary

Witch-hunt in the judiciary

A column I wrote 14 years ago was titled: “Witch-hunt in the judiciary.” It was those years when the Feb. 28 guys were ruling the state. Those judges and prosecutors who did not make decisions the way they wanted were blacklisted as “reactionist.” They also had a decree prepared for this purpose. In that column of mine, I was criticizing this and arguing that the judiciary must be impartial and independent. (Daily Milliyet, Nov. 20, 2000)

In that era, Justice Minister at Ecevit’s Cabinet, Professor Hikmet Sami Türk was opposing that the prosecutors open cases without evidence with the indoctrination of the General Staff; he was saying, “Judges should not rule under cloudy conditions. If the judiciary is wounded, if justice loses it respectability, then the country will suffer a huge damage.” (Sept. 5, 2000)

There was such a Justice Minister then who was defending justice against pressures. What about now?

Supreme Court of Appeals and HSYK

Even though there was no public necessity for it, with the “omnibus bill” the structure of the Supreme Court of Appeals (Yargıtay) has been changed. For this, council elections were held at the high court. President of the court Ali Alan has made a list compiling the tendencies in the high court and one that preserves the institutional identity of the court. That list won the elections.

There was another list competing against him, which was presented as “the government supports this;” that list lost.

During the 10-day long elections, the words of the ministry bureaucrats were echoed: “If you do not elect our list, we will issue a new law in fall and appoint 100 new members to the high court; just so you know.” 

If there was a new law to be introduced in the fall and new members were to be appointed, who do you think would be appointed? The Supreme Board of Prosecutors and Judges (HSYK), of course.

I read it in the pro-government papers. The top bureaucrats of the Justice Ministry have formed a “platform” to organize the HSYK elections that will be held in October. They are visiting provinces and holding meetings with judges and prosecutors.

Is it possible for judges and prosecutors not to attend those meetings? If so, they would immediately be labeled as “parallel” just like the “reactionist” stamp of 14 years ago…

The iftar-dinner of the undersecretary 

I read in a column by our colleague Mehmet Yılmaz Tuesday that the Undersecretary of the Justice Ministry, Kenan İpek, has given an iftar (fast-breaking) dinner to almost 1,000 judges and prosecutors in Istanbul. It must be one of the preparation activities for the HSYK elections. Mr. Undersecretary has both reminded the presidential elections and the HSYK elections to “independent” judges and prosecutors.

The undersecretary has mentioned the Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 investigations and reiterated the government’s thesis for the “independent” judges and prosecutors… He said, “The mentality that wore down late Menderes and his ministers in the eyes of the public by accusing them of corruption has come back once more.”

A politician can say this but an undersecretary of the Justice Ministry can never speak like this; unless he believes in the separation of powers.

The undersecretary is the “natural member” of the HSYK. The Dec. 17 and 25 procedures are still “investigations” from the legal point of view. What can the prosecutors on this case do before these words of the undersecretary? Also, with the knowledge of what has happened to their predecessors?  

The fight against “the parallel structure” has transformed into the “fight against the reactionary forces” of the Feb. 28 era.

If there is any evidence, do not wait another moment to investigate and prosecute; but without any evidence and with politically aimed accusations, by creating a “witch-hunt,” suppressing the judiciary is a big mistake. 

To select “Witch-hunt in the judiciary” title once more after 14 years is an agony for a law person.

What had the Justice Minister of 14 years ago Hikmet Sami Türk had said? “Judges should not rule under cloudy conditions. If the judiciary is wounded, if justice loses it respectability, then the country will suffer a huge damage.”