IAJ President Regnard says the rule of law ends in Turkey

Christophe Regnard, President of The International Association of Judges (IAJ), has defined the situation in Turkey as “the end of the rule of law” and has stated that “IAJ is concerned that the already oppressed judiciary will be turned into a totally depended instrument of power.”

IAJ President Regnard has sent a letter to all members of the association on Friday and shared his concerns over the referendum to be held in Turkey. He has also invited IAJ members to spread the letter to the media in their countries.

Reminding that the Venice Commission confirms IAJ´s fears over Turkey, Regnard has written in his letter that “The International Association of Judges, which followed the deterioration of the situation of the judiciary in Turkey since 2014 had to observe that since this date the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), which is totally dominated by the government unlawfully used its power to transfer and discipline judges and prosecutors. After the attempted coup d´etat it dismissed judges, which had been put on a list long before the coup without giving reasons for the individual case and without proper procedure.”

“In such a way,” said Regnard and added “24,4 percent of all judges (2538 out of 10382) and 24,3 percent of all prosecutors (1121 out of 4622) were dismissed, the majority of them are in detention since July 15, 2016. The example of this destiny threatens those judges and prosecutors, who remained in office or were recently appointed without sufficient experience. It is more than doubtful that a judiciary in this situation can be addressed as independent.”

The letter of IAJ President Regnard has continued as follow:

“Under these circumstances IAJ is alarmed by the analyses of the Council of Europe´s Venice Commission of the proposed amendments to the Turkish Constitution. The Constitutional experts of the Venice Commission conclude that the amendments “would place the independence of the judiciary under serious jeopardy” because of the determining influence of the President on the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors, which is the main self-governing body, overseeing appointment, promotion, transfer, disciplining and dismissal of judges and prosecutors. They also warn that while a state following a presidential system needs strong judicial control “the amendments would weaken an already inadequate system of judicial oversight of the executive”.

“This appeal in no ways is directed against the Turkish people or the Turkish nation, but it is based on the worries of IAJ that Turkey might lose its own fundamental values, which it shared with other democratic societies. Following the Opinion of the Venice Commission and the “Open Letter” of the European Association of Judges published a few days ago, the International Association of Judges considers that such development would end the Rule of Law in a country, which had a democratic tradition, which its people had manifested in the united brave defense of the terrible attack of July 15, a country which had been committed to Human Rights and common European values.

“IAJ, like previously EAJ (a Regional Group within IAJ ) therefore urges all well-minded people in Turkey and in the rest of Europe, to be aware of these developments, asks them to contribute to fully re-establish the independence of the judiciary in Turkey, to convince the Turkish authorities to reinstall the unduly dismissed and to free the unduly detained judges and prosecutors and  to help the Turkish people to guarantee them an independent judiciary , which protects their rights and freedoms.”

José Igreja Matos, President of the European Association of Judges (EAJ) had also released an open letter on March 15, 2017 and had expressed similar concerns.

March 27, 2017

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