Turkish gov’t likely to bypass Constitutional Court for more control over judiciary

Turkish gov’t likely to bypass Constitutional Court for more control over judiciary

Turkish gov’t likely to bypass Constitutional Court for more control over judiciary

Members of Ankara Bar Association, including head of Union of Turkish Bars Metin Feyzioğlu (4R), are seen during an international congress held in the city. Lawyers and opposition parties criticize the government’s recent plans to amend top judicial boards. AA photo

Determined to go ahead with a move to restructure a top judicial board at the cost of sparking anger of both the opposition parties and the European Union, the government is likely to bypass constitutional requirements.

A veteran academic, who once guided the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in, eventually futile, efforts for drafting a new and democratic Constitution, has the conviction that the same government’s recent move to reshape the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) will most likely be annulled by the Constitutional Court.

“With the latest proposal, the minister desires to be turned into the most important component of the board. I believe that this proposal will be most likely annulled and will be sent back,” Ergun Özbudun, professor of Constitutional Law, wrote in an article published on Jan. 9 in Turkish daily newspaper Zaman, known to be connected to U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen’s “Cemaat” (Community) or “Hizmet” (Service) movement.

Likewise, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) have argued the related bill is a violation of the Constitution.

However, fending off a corruption scandal that has implicated former Cabinet ministers, the ruling AKP government’s plan is bypassing the Constitutional requirements via amending certain clauses of the Article 159 of the Constitution, amendments of which do not require Constitutional amendments, online news portal T24, t24.com.tr, reported on Jan. 9. 

The said article underlines the structure and duties of the HSYK.

Parliament’s Justice Commission is expected today [Jan. 10] to debate the bill that would tighten Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s grip on the judiciary.

Erdoğan insists the corruption charges are a conspiracy orchestrated by followers of the Gülen movement, who he says have infiltrated the police and judiciary. He has vowed to fight back; the government has already removed hundreds of police officers from key posts. Critics say the measure is an affront to the independence of the judiciary.

According to CHP deputy Süheyl Batum, such arrangement through amendments in laws will give the government the chance to say, “We are not intervening with the Constitution.” 

“Article 159 of the Constitution is very clear. But acting on the provision within the 7th, 8th and 9th clauses, which says ‘shall be regulated by law,’ they will reshuffle all chambers,” Batum told T24.