Top judge urges judiciary over fair trial deficiencies

Top judge urges judiciary over fair trial deficiencies

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Top judge urges judiciary over fair trial deficiencies

Constitutional Court President Haşim Kılıç. AA photo

Using the judiciary to take revenge, settle internal scores, or for arbitrary implementations would sound the death knell for democracy and freedoms, Turkey’s top judge has warned, urging judges and prosecutors to “consider human dignity” in their judicial works.

Constitutional Court President Haşim Kılıç’s warnings came at a time when the judiciary is under serious criticism over ongoing cases such as the Ergenekon and Balyoz (Sledgehammer) investigations, in which a large number of prominent academics, journalists, lawmakers, and former and on-duty army officers who are known as government opponents are being prosecuted.

“75 percent of all individual applications to the Constitutional Court are regarding claims of violations of the right to a fair trial,” Kılıç said on Thursday at the 51st anniversary of the establishment of the High Court, adding that this figure also reflected the nature of the complaints made about Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights.

“[This] urgently necessitates profound changes to solve the structural problems of the judicial system,” he added, underlining the importance of a fair trial to protect the human dignity of everyone regardless of ethnic or racial differences. “The judiciary will have no chance of surviving if it only protects the lifestyles of people from a certain ideology while neglecting the freedoms of others. An unfair justice is oppressive … Being fair is essential for everyone, but it’s an absolute must for members of judiciary.”

An impartial and independent justice is essential for a contemporary rule of law, Kılıç also said, underscoring that members of the judiciary should treat all humanity equally regardless of their religion, language, race, sect or ideology.

Critical of Silivri protests

Having recalled this very fundamental problem, the top judge did not remain silent about the massive recent protests against the Ergenekon court case being heard in Istanbul’s Silivri courthouse. Describing as “unreasonable” the protests carried out by thousands of people and led by a number of lawmakers from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kılıç stressed that the positions or titles one holds does not give anybody the right to commit a crime. Expressing his concern and sorrow over the massive protests against the court, he advised protestors to keep their actions within the law and democratic boundaries.

Indirect criticism of Fazıl Say

Kılıç also indirectly mentioned the ongoing controversy over world-renowned piano player Fazıl Say, who was given a 10-month suspended jail term for sending a tweets that were ruled to be guilty of humiliating the religious values of the people. “Freedom of expression and assembly cannot be the source of hate speech. Insult, oppression and statements promoting violence and racism cannot be considered under the protection of freedom of expression,” he said, describing the thousands of years of culture accumulated in the country’s soil as the “main source” of tolerance and understanding.

“We can guarantee the existence of differences and the right to be different with this culture,” Kılıç said.