Turkish Parliamentary Speaker Çiçek deplores end of court independence

Turkish Parliamentary Speaker Çiçek deplores end of court independence

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish Parliamentary Speaker Çiçek deplores end of court independence

The law that underscores that the judiciary 'should be independent in the discharge of their duties’ is not functioning, Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek says.

Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek has deplored the end of judicial independence in Turkey in an overt reference to the ongoing argument over a conflict between the judiciary and the executive that has flared up as part of a fight between the government and the Hizmet Movement. 

“Article 138 of the Constitution is not functioning. We are writing and discussing [about it]. If it’s so, then let’s remove Article 138 from the Constitution,” Çiçek told reporters at a press conference he held Jan. 3 in reference to the law that spells out the independence of the judiciary. “There is a concept of dead laws, meaning laws that are not being exercised even though they are in force. Article 138 of the Constitution is dead in this country.” 

The article Çiçek mentioned reads as follows: 

“Judges shall be independent in the discharge of their duties; they shall give judgment in accordance with the Constitution, laws, and their personal conviction in conformity with the law. No organ, authority, office or individual may give orders or instructions to courts or judges relating to the exercise of judicial power, send them circulars, or make recommendations or suggestions. No questions shall be asked, debates held, or statements made in the Legislative Assembly relating to the exercise of judicial power concerning a case under trial. Legislative and executive organs and the administration shall comply with court decisions; these organs and the administration shall neither alter them in any respect, nor delay their execution.”

The debate over the issue erupted last week after the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) declared a governmental decree unconstitutional although the decree had already been taken to the Council of State. The Council of State suspended the execution of the decree, prompting a harsh reaction from the government on the grounds that the HSYK had violated Article 138. 

“For God’s sake, tell me if this article is functioning today. This article of the Constitution has not been implemented for a long time because everybody has pulled at it from both ends,” he said.

Language of peace and brotherhood

Çiçek also touched on the ongoing fight between the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and the Fethullah Gülen community – or the Hizmet Movement – and urged all parties to adopt a language of peace and brotherhood and to respect the principle of the separation of powers to prevent jurisdictional conflict. 

“I must openly say that we need a language of peace and brotherhood. Although this is very important, the language we are using in politics is problematic; we are destroying a lot of things with this language,” Çiçek told reporters.

“On the one hand, we all talk about the need for unity and integrity. United we stand, divided we fall. We all have used concepts of ‘internal powers-external powers’ against our unity. There are some correct parts of it. But we should also accept that the language we are using against each other has enormous effects on the deterioration of our unity, polarizing the other, which complicates dialogue and mutual understanding. That’s why we need a language of peace and brotherhood in 2014, as painful experiences of the past dictate.” 

Every institution should mind own business

Çiçek said Turkey was one of the most prominent global examples of a country engaged in a jurisdictional debate even though it has a Constitution and set of rules, while urging the executive, legislative and judiciary to remain within the boundaries of their authority and avoid interfering in each other’s mandate. 

“2014 will be an important year for Turkey for various reasons. To make it a year of peace and comfort, it’s crucially important for everyone to stay within their own boundaries. The absence of this will bring a lot of difficulty,” he said.

Corruption is a social, political issue

The speaker also addressed the ongoing problem of corruption without touching on the ongoing graft probe that has engulfed Cabinet ministers and high-level civil servants. 

“Corruption is a chronic malady. It destroys social values, erodes the state and rules and thus ruins the feeling of justice deeply. It has three prongs: Politics, the bureaucracy and the business world – a devil’s triangle,” Çiçek said, noting that even if just a few people in these areas engage in wrongdoing, the whole institutions can become tainted. “There is corrosion in all of these three areas. But the fight against corruption is a social struggle. It’s not a seasonal fight. And not only the fight of the judiciary.”
Stressing that corruption probes should be carried out regardless of the identity of wrongdoers or their affiliation with important people, Çiçek called on people to show reaction against corrupted people in a move to show so as to demonstrate that their acts are not approved. 

“Turkey’s rank [in the index of transparency] increased from 65th to 53rd place. This is important, but it shows that there 52 countries that are much better than us. Let’s all set a target: Let’s put Turkey in the first 10 countries of this index by 2023,” he said. 

Upon a question on discussions about a parallel state established by the Hizmet movement within the machinery of the state, Çiçek said: “There is only one state. There can be no other. The state is one and has rules … Those who are serving the state sign a contract with the state and cannot, therefore, breach this contract.”