Turkish government appoints new HSYK members as CHP applies to top court

Turkish government appoints new HSYK members as CHP applies to top court

Turkish government appoints new HSYK members as CHP applies to top court

CHP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Akif Hamzaçebi speaks with reporters in front of the Constitutional Court. AA photo

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ swiftly began appointing new members to the country’s top judicial body, the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), after a bill entered into force Feb. 28 as the main opposition appealed to the top court for an annulment and stay of execution of the bill.

A number of HSYK members and hundreds of officials working at the high court were dismissed after the bill was published in the Official Gazette.

The law gives Bozdağ the authority to appoint the secretary-general of the HSYK and members of the disciplinary board. He appointed Serdar Mutta as acting secretary-general, five of his deputies, as well as appointments for the disciplinary board. The Cabinet also appointed Yılmaz Akçil as the head of the Justice Academy.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) immediately made an application to the Constitutional Court early Feb. 28 for the annulment and the stay of execution before the government moves forward and appoints new cadres to the HSYK.

“This law is in violation of Article 159 of the Constitution, which stipulates the independence of the HSYK,” Akif Hamzaçebi, deputy parliamentary group leader of the CHP, told reporters after appealing to the top court.

Noting that they were demanding the annulment and stay of execution of 23 provisions of the 46-article bill, Hamzaçebi said: “With this law, judges and prosecutors will be under the control of the justice minister. This is openly against the principle of the separation of powers.”

The bill breaches the constitutional principle of the rule of law as it makes judicial control over administrative moves nearly impossible, he said.

The law is also problematic because HSYK members were automatically removed from their positions when the bill entered into force with no right to appeal to a court to demand their the reinstatement of their jobs, Hamzaçebi said, adding that the Constitution Court’s potential annulment of the law would give such public officials the ability to apply to the court for the return of their positions.

“I am of the opinion that the Constitutional Court will discuss [the CHP’s appeal] without delay,” he said, citing the importance of the law.

The CHP lawmaker reiterated his party’s criticism of President Abdullah Gül for refusing to refer the law to the Constitutional Court even though he publicly said there were unconstitutional articles in the law.

“As president, he has the right to veto it or to take it to Constitutional Court. Not using either right and passing the buck for the CHP to appeal to the court is not among the duties of the president.”

In the meantime, the Judges’ Union called on all members of the HSYK to resign from their positions as a reaction to the government’s alleged attempt to exert control over the judiciary. The union underlined that the legal changes had destroyed the autonomy of the HSYK and the Justice Academy, subordinating them to the justice minister.