Turkish bar associations to boycott judicial year ceremony
Dozens of Turkish bar associations are refusing to join the 2019 Judicial Year Opening Ceremony which will be held in the Presidential Palace, saying it “undermines the separation of powers.”Dozens of Turkish bar associations are refusing to join the 2019 Judicial Year Opening Ceremony which will be held in the Presidential Palace, saying it “undermines the separation of powers.”
At least 42 bar associations, including those for Istanbul and the capital Ankara, said they would not attend the event on Sept. 2 because they believe the ceremony should take place at the Supreme Court building, not the presidential palace.
This is the first time that Turkish bar associations are boycotting a legal year opening ceremony.
“These past years have seen judicial independence being seriously undermined... The judiciary is under pressure from the executive,” Mehmet Durakoğlu, head of the Istanbul Bar Association, told reporters on Aug. 18. “Under these circumstances, we would expect the ceremony for the opening of the judicial year to take place at a venue that represents the separation of powers, rather than a political location.”
Durakoğlu said the bar associations would keep up with their campaign for more judicial independence in Turkey even “at the expense of paying a heavy price.”
“We have no fear nor hesitation,” he said. “We see no solution other than keep on fighting.”
The ceremony marking the start of Turkey’s legal year was first held at the Presidential Palace in 2016 following a failed military coup attempt. While the venue was changed in 2017 in response to criticism, it moved back to the palace again last year.
Not all lawyers’ groups are aligned with the protest. The Union of Turkish Bar Associations said it would take part in the event. Its head, Metin Feyzioğlu, is set to speak at the ceremony.