HSYK reshuffles 1,035 judges and prosecutors across Turkey

The Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) has decided to reshuffle 1,035 judges and prosecutors on Tuesday following Friday’s mass purge in the judiciary. According to a written statement issued on the website of the HSYK, 10 administrative officers have also been reshuffled.

A total of 4,238 judges and prosecutors have been dismissed and thousands have been replaced since failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, according to the HSYK.

On Friday, the HSYK dismissed 107  judges and prosecutors over their alleged links to Gülen movement.

In May 2016, Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ announced that the total number of judges and prosecutors in Turkey was 14,661. Bozdağ on Aug. 17 also announced a government plan to name 8,000 new judges and prosecutors by the end of 2016.

The government has been criticized for using the coup attempt as an excuse to purge judges and prosecutors and replace them with names close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul deputy Barış Yarkadaş stated that the AKP government had recruited for the position of judge 800 lawyers who had ties to the AKP. Yarkadaş said the AKP government held an examination for judges, saying that there were 1,500 vacancies in Turkish courts. “However, they only recruited 900 judges, 800 of them pro-AKP people,” he said.

A comprehensive report, unveiled by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) on April 14, titled “Turkey’s descent into arbitrariness: The end of rule of law” provides detailed information on how the rule of law has lost meaning in Turkish context, confirming the effective collapse of all domestic judicial and administrative remedies available for Turkish citizens who lodge complaints on rights violations. The report concluded that the rule of law no longer exists in Turkey.

The report lists many recent cases showing the ways in which President Erdoğan and his associates in the government manipulates judiciary through loyalists and partisans. An unprecedented intimidation campaign against independent judges and prosecutors including unlawful arrests and arbitrary assets seizures was pursued by political authorities.

In addition to jailing thousands of judges and prosecutors, Turkey has also imprisoned hundreds of human rights defenders and lawyers, making extremely difficult for detainees to access to a lawyer in violation of a due process and fair trial protections under the Turkish Code on Criminal Procedures.

Turkish authorities have issued sweeping arrest warrants against more than 1000 lawyers within last eight months on what is believed to be a part of crackdown on critics and opponents of President Erdoğan and his government. So far more than 410 lawyers including prominent criminal law attorneys and heads of provincial and regional bar associations were formally arrested while many were forced to self-exile to avoid torture and ill treatment in jails.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 which killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the AKP government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.

Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

According to a statement from Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ on May 6, 149,833 people have been investigated and 48,636 have been jailed as part of a post-coup witch hunt targeting the Gülen movement since the July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.

May 9, 2017

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