Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdağ has responded to reactions with regards to the plans for this year’s opening ceremony of the legal year to be held at a culture center within the Presidential Complex by saying: “Judicial independence and objectivity are established through fair decisions made based on laws; not based on meeting venues, symbolism or ideologies”.
While Minister Bozdağ has also recalled on TBB (Union of Turkish Bar Associations) Chair Feyzioğlu and CHP Chair Kılıçdaroğlu to revert their stands and attend the meeting, decisions of TBB and CHP remain the same as they do not intent to attend this year’s opening ceremony with the belief that holding it at the Presidential Complex is damaging to the principles of checks and balances.
All the while, data and statistics about the problems in Turkey with regards to the judicial system are in complete contrast with Justice Minister Bozdağ’s assertions and emphasis on ‘fair decisions’.
Bozdağ: ‘Those not understanding the essence of the subject matter…’
In his statements made on his official twitter account, Minister Bozdağ said: “Saying that ‘if the opening ceremony of the legal year is held in a room belonging to the public or the private sector does not damage judicial independence and objectivity but if it is held in the National Convention and Culture Center of the Presidential Complex, owned by the state and the nation, it would damage judicial independence and objectivity’ is actually victimizing independence and objectivity of the judiciary in the name of ideology and symbolism. Judicial independence and objectivity are established through fair decisions made based on laws; not based on meeting venues, symbolism or ideologies. Searching for judicial independence and objectivity in images, in ideological consistency, or in the venue where the opening will be held is surrendering to primitive; and, it shows a lack of understanding the essence and significance of the subject matter. It is also surrendering to ‘peer pressure.’ CHP Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and TBB Chair Metin Feyzioğlu should attend the opening of the legal year despite such symbolic and ideological pressures.”
Which fair decisions?
While Turkey under the rule of AKP governments has caused the European Court of Human Rights, a court that has an international standing, an overwork with the 17/25 December process; regulation of judicial branches – especially the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors; and, unrecognized legal decisions, reports prepared by independent institutions have also revealed how exactly judicial processes take place in Turkey.
According to the latest statistics of the ECtHR, with 64,850 cases filed against it by the end of 2015, Turkey has ranked at the third place in terms of number of files.
Additionally, while ‘the country about which a decision was made the most in 2015’ was Russia – with 116 decisions on its behalf out of a total of 823 ordered cases -, Turkey has followed it as the second country with 87 ordered decisions. Furthermore, 13% of the work load of ECtHR in 2015 was made up of files about Turkey just by itself.
The issue is with regards to fair trials
Out of 87 decisions made by ECtHR about Turkey in 2015, in 79 of them, Turkey has been found in violation of at least one term of the European Convention on Human Rights; and, 20 of these violations have involved the article of the ECHR with regards to ‘fair trials.’ Following the violations of right to a fair trial, other mostly violated terms were with regards to not carrying out sufficient investigations on complaints about maltreatment and violations of rights to personal freedoms and safety. These made up 14 of the decisions, while 13 others were about insufficiency of the investigations on violations of right to life.
Turkey is going backwards on ‘rule of law’
In the regularly released index of the World Justice Project, which monitors and examines efficiency of countries’ legal systems, Turkey has regressed greatly. While it was the 59th among the 99 countries in 2014, it has fallen down to the 80th place in the year of 2015. Among the 31 countries within its region, Turkey was the 29th. While presenting the results of the index, the representative of the Project has especially pointed out the decline in effectiveness of Turkey’s judiciary with regards to following up with ‘rule of law.’
Erdoğan does not embrace ‘seperation of powers’
More over, President Tayyip Erdoğan has many times criticized the very principle of checks and balances. In 2012, he openly stated: “You know this thing called ‘separation of powers’; it comes up to your way as an obstacle.”