Three hundred judges and prosecutors who were dismissed by the Turkish government but also acquitted or cleared of charges of membership in terrorist organizations have been prohibited from obtaining law licenses, according to the Rule of Law Platform, BBC Turkish service reported on Thursday.
They are mostly former judges or prosecutors who were purged by a government decree during a two-year-long state of emergency declared after a failed coup in 2016.
Turkey dismissed them for alleged affiliation with terrorist groups designated by the country’s National Security Council (MGK).
While the dismissals were primarily based on administrative investigations conducted by the public institutions in which they were working at the time, some criminal investigations were also launched into them.
After their acquittals, the dismissed judges and prosecutors were free to apply to bar associations for law licenses.
Initially, the bar associations rejected their applications; however, the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) later overruled the rejections.
Turkey’s Justice Ministry appealed the TBB’s decision in a local court, which ruled in favor of the ministry. An appeals court also upheld the verdict.
According to the government decrees, dismissed public servants cannot be hired for any public office, and the Justice Ministry deems serving a private lawyer to be a public duty.
At this point, some of the purged lawyers individually applied to the Constitutional Court but have not yet received a decision. On the other hand, the TBB has started to reject applications from purge victims based on the latest ruling from the appeals court.
According to the Rule of Law Platform, there are thousands of purge victims who want to become private lawyers and are awaiting a solution.
Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK) on Wednesday ruled that purge victims could not become mayors, even if they were elected, contradicting a previous ruling that allowed purge victims to stand as candidates in local elections.
The YSK also ruled last year that purge victims could serve as members of parliament, with several purge victims elected as deputies in parliamentary elections on June 24.
Turkey has fallen to 109th place out of 126 countries in the World Justice Project’s (WJP) 2019 Rule of Law Index, a comprehensive measure of the rule of law.
The Turkish government arrested a total of 2,431 judges and prosecutors and dismissed 4,424 others following the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. (SCF with turkishminute.com)