Turkish gov’t woos judicial officers ahead of key vote at top judicial body
The government considers the Oct. 12 vote at the HSYK as a key opportunity to curb Gülen’s alleged influence.The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is stepping up its bid to break the alleged dominance of followers of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen in the judiciary, who it claims are acting as a “parallel state.”
Speaking on Sept. 4, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ announced plans for an amnesty of judicial officers’ disciplinary penalties and a pay rise before the Oct. 12 elections at the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK).
Bozdağ said the plans for advancing the employee benefits, including salary increases, of all judges and prosecutors will be introduced to Parliament within the next week.
“I regard this as a step that will make them happy. I am sure it will be a figure with which all of our judges and prosecutors will be pleased,” he said in an interview with private news channel Kanal 24.
Bozdağ noted that the arrangement would probably be introduced as a bill after a final consultation with the government on Sept. 8.
His announcement came only hours after a meeting between newly assigned Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and a group of judicial officers, during which the “Platform for Unity in Judiciary” group voiced demands including amnesty for disciplinary penalties. Abbas Özden, a public prosecutor in Ankara speaking on behalf of the group, acknowledged that the “parallel structure” was on the meeting’s agenda.
Bozdağ said the group had also taken a step toward the amnesty of disciplinary penalties. Additionally, administrative law judges who have not graduated from law faculties but who have completed 10 years in office will be given the opportunity to attend law faculties without having to enter the Central University Exam, he said.
Government officials have strongly hinted that the upcoming HSYK elections should be included within the framework of the struggle against the “parallel state.” In February, a government-led law transferred significant powers from the HSYK to the Justice Ministry.
The government considers the Oct. 12 vote at the HSYK an opportunity to curb Gülen’s alleged influence. Turkey’s 15,000 judges and prosecutors will choose 10 principal members and six reserve members from the HSYK board in the elections.