Judges and prosecutors refuse to process complaints about threats against rights activists, opposition deputy says

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu

An opposition lawmaker has filed criminal complaints against 21 prosecutors and three judges who refused to process criminal complaints regarding insults and threats made on social media against rights activists, saying there were no grounds for an investigation, Turkish Minute reported on Friday.

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a human rights activist and lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), filed the complaints with the Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) in Ankara on Friday.

Gergerlioğlu told reporters in front of the Ankara Courthouse that the independence of the judiciary has been completely lost in Turkey and that members of the judiciary are not doing their jobs in cases where human rights activists are subjected to insults, curses and threats on social media.

“When people exercise their freedom of speech and express their views [critical of the government], they are immediately labeled as terrorists and put in jail. But threats against rights activists are not investigated,” Gergerlioğlu said.

He said people who are victims of injustice are going to court to seek justice but are denied their rights by prosecutors.

The Turkish judiciary is harshly criticized for being under the absolute control of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, particularly after Erdoğan was granted vast powers under a presidential system of governance that went into effect in 2018.

While government critics face immediate legal action for their criticisms and views about the government and its members, everyday people have a hard time obtaining justice in what many say is Turkey’s overly politicized justice system.

Last week the country’s main opposition leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, warned the country’s bureaucrats not to abide by unlawful orders from the ruling party, or risk facing the consequences.

“As of Monday, October 18, you will be held responsible for all the support you give to the unlawful demands of this government. You can’t dodge responsibility for unlawful acts, saying, ‘I was ordered to do it.’ As of Monday, stop doing whatever you are unlawfully ordered to do,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in a video on Twitter.

Kılıçdaroğlu’s warning to bureaucrats angered the AKP government and Erdoğan, who accused him of urging public officials to resort to disobedience.

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