Turkey's main opposition welcomes government move to scrap special courts

Turkey's main opposition welcomes government move to scrap special courts

Turkeys main opposition welcomes government move to scrap special courts

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu speaks to reporters in Ankara on Jan 30. AA photo

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has welcomed a government move that will abolish specially authorized courts (ÖYM) and other special courts authorized by anti-terror laws.

The move was also welcomed by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), while the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) said it would not support the draft bill.

“We will give our contribution to any legal arrangement that will ensure the independence and neutrality of [the judiciary],” CHP head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said Jan. 30.

Kılıçdaroğlu added that his party had proposed to Parliament  to scrap a provisionary article that allowed the special courts to operate and hand over their ongoing cases back in 2012.

“We requested to abolish the courts and [transfer] the cases to regular courts. The government did not take it into consideration at the time, but they seem to have accepted our propositions today. We will be happy if such [a bill] is submitted,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. 

With plans to pass the democratization package before Parliament’s recess on the eve of the March 30 local polls, the government is planning to finalize the drafted bill in the coming days, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ announced on Jan. 29. 

Special courts had been discontinued by Parliament in 2012, but a provisionary article allowed them to complete pending trials such as the Ergenekon, “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer), OdaTV and Poyrazköy coup plot cases.

Abolishing the provisionary article and the anti-terror courts was included in a proposal from the head of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB), Metin Feyzioğlu, to retry the coup plot cases. The measure is also expected to “clear the way” for an internal restructuring of the judiciary.

BDP lawmaker Hasip Kaplan said his party would also support the abolishing of specially authorized courts.

“We are not asking for too much from the government. We just say ‘provide some of the justice you have provided for the ministers’ sons to the people,” Kaplan said Jan. 30 at a press conference in Parliament.

Kaplan also added that he became the target of physical attacks when he first said in Parliament that the specially authorized courts should be abolished. “We have always been clear on this issue: these courts have no legality and should be shut down immediately,” he said.

Despite the CHP and BDP support, the opposition MHP is against the government-led efforts to abolish the courts.

“You cannot act like you are making judicial reforms at the time of an actual coup against the judiciary,” MHP deputy parliamentary group leader Oktay Vural told reporters in Parliament on Jan. 29. “The judiciary has been made a target with heavy accusations; the judiciary is currently under the threat of the AKP. We face a mentality that tries to abolish the specially authorized courts and replace them with AKP courts, this is the real danger.”