Turkish gov’t plans action on long trial, detentions

Turkish gov’t plans action on long trial, detentions

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish gov’t plans action on long trial, detentions

Sadullah Ergin. DAILY NEWS photo

Turkey’s government is open to proposals to resolve the problem of lengthy pre-trial detentions as part of redoubled efforts to dispel mounting criticism over Turkey’s rights record, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin signaled yesterday.

Ergin made the remarks at Parliament’s Justice Commission during a debate on a draft bill that would open the way for the release of thousands of convicts on probation, hours after he said trials in Turkey would end in one year within a period of two years.

Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmaker Hakkı Köylü suggested those who had been detained for long periods while awaiting trial should also be included within the scope of the bill.

 “Arrest decisions are up to the judges. This bill covers only convicts. Technically, we cannot include detainees in the scope, but if we find a way, let’s consider it,” Ergin said.

The government has drawn up a separate package of draft amendments aimed at speeding up Turkey’s notoriously cumbersome judicial system. The package includes provisions under which a series of charges brought against journalists would be suspended and eventually dropped.

Speaking to NTV television earlier in the day, Ergin said the package would significantly relieve the burden of the judiciary. Within a period of about two years, the reforms would produce a “revolutionary outcome” as the average length of trials would drop to one year, he said while voicing hope that complaints about lengthy detentions would also be reduced to a “minimum.”

He also said the law for setting up a special mechanism for those who want to complain about lengthy proceedings was ready and would soon be submitted to the Cabinet.

“The mechanism will help us deal with the 3,000 cases pending at the ECHR [European Court of Human Rights],”Ergin said.

The ECHR announced earlier this week that it would not accept any case from Turkey in connection to long detention periods until September because Ankara is currently drafting a formula to address the issue.