World Justice Project shows Turkey among world’s worst for rule of law

Turkey has fallen to the 101st position out of 113 countries in the World Justice Project’s 2017-18 Rule of Law Index, a comprehensive measure of the rule of law.

The World Justice Project (WJP) is an independent, US-based organisation that aims to advance the rule of law around the world. Its Rule of Law Index is an annual report that measures the rule of law around the world, using primary data and expert opinions. The WJP claims this is the most comprehensive report of its kind in the world.

There has been widespread concern that fundamental rights and freedoms and the rule of law in Turkey have starkly eroded since a state of emergency was announced after the failed coup attempt in July 2016. This was reflected in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World Report this year, which downgraded Turkey’s status to “not free”.

An incident illustrating Turkey’s problematic rule of law came this January, when a local court overrode the decision by the Constitutional Court to release two journalists imprisoned in the aftermath of the coup attempt.

Turkey slipped two places on the WJP list this year to 101st, joint with Myanmar, and below Nicaragua, Madagascar and Nigeria. Turkey was nine places above Egypt, and just 12 higher than the bottom-placed Venezuela.

The WJP’s report placed Turkey’s rule of law as the worst in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and the second worst of upper-middle income countries, above Venezuela.

Image taken from World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2017-18.

The WJP decide on their ranking by each countries performance across eight aggregated factors, including constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice.

Turkey was ranked in the bottom tercile in six of these eight areas. The two areas in which it achieved an average grade were absence of corruption and criminal justice.

Turkey’s results from the 2017-18 Rule of Law Index. From the World Justice Project.

Turkey’s constraints on government powers were marked particularly harshly by WJP, coming in 111st place above only Zimbabwe and Venezuela.

Turkey’s record on fundamental rights, too, was near the bottom of the list, in 107th position, one above China and one below Bangladesh. Freedom of religion and freedom of expression achieved particularly dismal results in this category.

Turkish government has jailed more than 570 lawyers, mostly alleged members of the Gülen movement, under the rule of emergency which was declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Şenal Sarıhan, a deputy of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People Party (CHP), has revealed on Tuesday that authorities had arrested 572 lawyers during the one and a half year-long state of emergency in place since the controversial military coup.

According to data compiled by the independent monitoring site The Arrested Lawyers’ Initiative, 552 lawyers have been arrested since July 15, 2016 and 1403 lawyers have been under prosecution as of October 27, 2017. It was reported that some of the arrested lawyers were subjected torture and ill-treatment. 14 of detained or arrested lawyers are the presidents or former presidents of provincial bars associations.

Former Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ on May 2017 said more than 4,000 judges and prosecutors have been dismissed from judicial body over links to the Gülen movement and that none of the remaining judges and prosecutors have been left uninvestigated. However, according to the t24 news website, the government has dismissed 4,238 of Turkey’s 14,661 judges and prosecutors since July 15.

A comprehensive report by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) 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.

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.

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