In an official statement published today, Amnesty International has voiced its concern over legislative amendments which, it says, threaten to “weaken the independence of the judiciary and reverse the important reforms to the HCJP brought in constitutional amendments adopted only four years ago.”
The new legislation has been rushed through Parliament following attempts by the government to block a corruption investigation targeting public officials and business leaders close to the Prime Minister. Thousands of police officers and scores of judges and prosecutors have been transferred from their posts in the wake of the investigation.
The independence of the judiciary has long been an issue of concern in Turkey:
Amnesty International has long held concerns regarding the fairness of trials in Turkey, particularly in relation to prosecutions of those critical of the state or expressing positions contrary to official positions on sensitive issues. Constitutional amendments secured by referendum in 2010 improved the representation of the judiciary within the HCJP, but these reforms are eroded by a move that will strengthen the hand of the executive over judicial appointments and disciplinary processes. There are also concerns that these changes will reduce the likelihood of public officials being brought to justice for abuses they commit.
Amnesty concludes the statement by calling on
the Turkish authorities to withdraw the amendments granting additional decision making powers and powers of appointment to the Minister of Justice which threaten the actual and perceived independence and impartiality of the judiciary in Turkey and the right to a fair trial