Turkish gov’t dismisses 107 more judges and prosecutors

Turkey’s top judicial body, the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), has dismissed 107 more judges and prosecutors over alleged ties to the Gülen movement, which is accused by the government of masterminding a failed coup on July 15, 2016. The decision for the expulsion of the jurists was made at the HSYK general assembly on Friday.

Deputy Chairman of the HSYK Mehmet Yılmaz told Turkish media that with the latest dismissals, the lists they were working on have been completed. “This is the last one. The lists we have been working are now complete. We have no one left to dismiss. If we receive more complaints in the future, we will address them,” Yılmaz said.

According to news website t24, the government has dismissed a total of 4,238 judges and prosecutors since July 15, 2016

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 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 President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul deputy Barış Yarkadaş said last week that the AKP government had recruited for the position of judge 800 lawyers who had ties to the party.

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.

“According to information I received from the judicial community, there is a dark side to the examination for lawyers to become judges. Lots of people failed to be recruited although they scored well in the written test. However, many [pro-AKP] people were recruited after the verbal exam despite the fact that they scored 55-60 in the written exam,” Yarkadaş 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.

It lists many recent cases showing the ways in which Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip 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. (SCF with turkishminute.com) May 5, 2017

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