Turkey looks to Germany in improving controversial secret witness system

Turkey looks to Germany in improving controversial secret witness system

The Turkish government has stepped into action to amend controversial aspects of the much-debated “secret witness” system by taking German practices into consideration.

The Interior and Justice Ministries have launched studies tackling how to adapt Turkish regulations into the German system, aiming to avert speculations about the system that earned legal basis in 2008, parallel with Ergenekon investigations, as the daily Milliyet reported.

The secret witness practice has been accused of being unlawful by a number of lawyers, particularly during coup cases such as Balyoz and Ergenekon. The protection of the suspect’s identity stirred doubts about their trustworthiness, being one of the many controversial legal practices in the cases.

The German system, taken as a model by Turkish authorities, would help to overcome the majority of trust issues as defense lawyers are allowed to be present at every stage of the secret witnesses’ testimonies, including the prosecution phase. Pressure on secret witnesses would be also eased with the system.

The ministries will seek to rehabilitate the system by harmonizing it with the German example, as part of the EU Twinning Projects.

Within the framework of the 1 million euro Twinning Project, German experts working for the secret witness program in their country will train their Turkish counterparts employed by the Police Department, Gendarmerie forces and the Justice Ministry.

During the first stage of the program, 240 officers will be trained in six-month periods.
Because of these trainings, as well as the technical equipment support that will be provided, the Turkish secret system will resemble German one.

In the second phase of the program, Turkey will purchase technical hardware, particularly to be used at the judiciary stage.