The 4th Judicial Package: Some Preliminary Observations

Amnesty activists in Istanbul staging protest on April 6, 2013

Amnesty activists in Istanbul staging protest on April 6, 2013

As many of you know, Amnesty has been working, these past weeks, to pressure the Turkish government to revise and expand its goals for the Fourth Judicial Package.  That package was passed with some amendments yesterday.   Amnesty staff is now researching and assessing the package in its final form.  In the meantime, I’d like to give these initial observations.

1. The Turkish government felt the pressure from activists within and outside of TurkeyWe are still assessing the amendments added to the judicial package, but it seems clear that these were introduced at virtually the last minute to try to address the limited nature of the package overall.

2. Turkish authorities know they have not done enough.  The ink is hardly dry on the Fourth Judicial Package, and Ali Babacan, the Deputy Prime Minister, is already speaking of a Fifth and Sixth Judicial Package.  This will be a marathon, not a sprint.

3. Amnesty and other human rights organizations were able to turn up the pressure through mass action.  Thousands participated, both in Turkey and abroad.  Social media, like facebook and twitter, but also the TURKRAN, campus groups, and public protests all played an important role in keeping the pressure on and ensuring that the government could not claim the judicial reforms were more than they really are.

4. We had some successes this week, but much as been left undone, both in terms of bringing Turkish statutes in line with international standards of human rights law and in terms of a host of other human rights issues.  Let’s feel proud of the work we’ve done.  And let’s turn now to the important work ahead.  There is a much that must yet be done.

Howard Eissenstat, St. Lawrence University

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