It is not too much to say that being a member of the judiciary is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. It is too difficult because one of the fundemental needs of a person is a justice and the members of the judiciary exercise so much critic task in meeting of this requirement.
Because of the difficulty and importance of the task, the international standards are needed to be established. In 2003, the principles of Bangolar Judiciary Ethics were accepted to constitute a professional ethics for the judges (1). The fundementals like the independence, impartiality, equality, accuracy, honesty, qualification and capacity that ought to be held by a judge are explained in detail in these principles. Likewise, in a European Prosecutors’ Conference, held in 2005 by the European Council, the European principles regarding the ethics and attitude procedure for the prosecutors, also known as Budapest principles, were accepted. In Budapest principles, as is the case with the judges, the qualifications that should be held by the prosecutors were discussed in detail.
In a modern state of rule of law, in order to mention about a judiciary that will become a guarantee for the human rights, it is necessary not only to be found of judicial bodies and the members called “judges and prosecutors”, but also to be held of the above mentioned qualifications by these judges and prosecutors. It is not easy to train a judge having those qualifications. Firstly, a judge will have a professional knowledge and then this knowledge will be supported by means of exercise in profession. This requires quite much time.
In this sense, Turkish judiciary has never had a perfect judicial bodies. However, it has always tried to improve itself up to the recent history and recorded a remarkable progress. Indeed, Turkey had recorded a remarkable progress in terms of independency, ecficiency, the protection of the human rights and fundemental freedoms till 2013 according to Eueopean Comission and it was ready at a certain level for the application of Union Acquis and European standards (2). However, since 2014, Turkish judiciary not only has not recorded any progress but also regress from the gains in judiciary with the oppression on judges and prosecutors. With the dismissals of the judges and prosecutors in 2016, the current situation has worsened (3).
In this essay aiming to take a picture of the recent past year of Turkish judiciary by using graphics, the data used in graphics was obtained from the statistical data in website of CJP, the starting date of employment in CJP decrees and also the datas revealed by the ministers in press releases (4).
2. THE PURGES IN TURKISH JUDICIARY UNDER THE PRETEX OF COUP ATTEMPT
The developments after July 15 coup attempt point out the fact that the government had being made preparations for a long time to take the judiciary under its control. Because, millions of the opponents should have been purged to shift a one man regime in a way detaining or arresting them. For this porpose, a judiciary linked to the government was a prerequisite condition. Indeed, on the wake of July 16, while the soldiers organizing the coup could not be determined yet , the CJP convened and suspended 2745 judges/prosecutors. Then, this number has reached 4560 in total. So far, one third of total judiciary, having 15304 judges/prosecutors in total as of July 2016, has been dismissed from the post of judge.
1591 out of total dismissed justices whose dismissals become final served 10 years and more;1578 out of that served between 5 and 10 years and 1114 out of that served less than 5 years. That’s to say, 63,16 percent of total dismissed number served more than 5 years in the profession.
3. THE PURGES IN HIGHER JUDICIAL BODIES
In this process, the government purged many senior members of the judiciary in order to designate a partisan judiciary. 2 members of the Constitutional Court, consisting of 17 members in total; 140 members of the Court of Cassation, consisting of 471 members in total; 49 members of the Council of State, consisting of 177 members in total have been purged or arrested so far. 5 members of CJP, having 22 members, are also among the purged or arrested ones.
4. THE PRE-TRIAL DECISIONS AND PRACTICES ABOUT THE DISMISSED JUDGES AND PROSECUTORS
4560 judges and prosecutors not only dismissed from their profession but also arrested by the government being on a power trip to establish a new regime “autocracy”. 680 out of the total arrestees have been held under solitary confinement in prisons. They were prohibited to meet with their lawyers, families and relatives under the heavy poor conditions in prisons which is incompatiple with Turkish Execution regulations in effect.
Prosecutor Seyfettin Yiğit, held under such a poor conditions, were found died in prison toilet. While his family asserted he had been killed, the authorities claimed he had suicided (5).
Furthermore, judge Mehmet Tosun, whose salary and all social security rights were cut after his dismissal and released after the pre-trial detention, passed away due to his relapsing illness under heavy circumstances (6).
Despite tens of ills are there among the arrestees, they have not been released yet. Member of Court of Cassation Mustafa Erdogan, arrested despite having a severe brain surgery and to be obliged to be held in hospital, was not set free till he had lost his consciousness despite many release requests and full-fledged hospital reports, what’smore, held under solitary confinement. After his death became apparent, he was released and he died 4 days after his release (7).
1585 judges and prosecutors were released on probation. The lawyers whose lives are all justice and law, have been turned to “civil dead” being deprived of even attorney’s licence.
In this process judicial action has been taken into 4290 out of 4560 dismissed judges and prosecutors.
5. SHORT POSITION DUE TO PURGES, PARTISAN JUDGESHIP, LACK OF QUALIFICATION AND SENIORITY
First step for the partisan judiciary was to purge the members of the judiciary not pledging allegiance to the government and the second step was to charge the partisan ones to the positions of the dismissed ones. CHP deputy Barış Yarkadaş, revealing absolute examples, announced to the public that 800 out of 900 recruit judges were linked to AKP (8). Jugde Nuh Hüseyin Köse, member of Judges Union, declared: ” Qualification or capacity does not matter any more, partisan lawyers are being appointed as judges. The qualified judges have been remained aside as unproductive capacity. They are being forced to be retired or giving up their posts or deactivated (9)”.
Indeed, Turkish judiciary has a matter of capability/qualification after the purges. The regular functioning of Turkish judiciary is as the following: Turkish judicial organization goes into five regions. The fifth region is the smallest one and the first one is the biggest one composed of the metropolises. A judge passing the judgeship examination is appointed to the smallest regions, namely, the forth or fifth region. As getting experience in the post, s/he is appointed to the bigger regions. In order to exercise the judicial task in the first region, a judge should serve at least 10 years in the profession. Even to discharge the task in metropolises like Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir at least 15 years seniority is required. Because of the short position as a result of the purges at amount of 30 percent of the whole judiciary whose 63 percent has a seniority above 5 and 10 years, the judges, newly appointed or having too few seniority in the profession, have begun to exercise the judicial task in metropolises. Due to high short position, the Justice Minister declared that the training period before the appointment to the profession had been shortened (10).
Nowadays, in Turkey especially in Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, the justice has been being delivered by the recruits and the victims have been being arrested or tried on request of life sentence.
The open letter written by judge Adem Arslan, still on duty, to Deputy chairman of CJP Mehmet Yılmaz reveals the current heartbreaking situation of Turkish judiciary: “Deputy chairman of CJP Mehmet Yılmaz made a statement as usual, in summary, he said they had cleaned the judiciary from FETO but it was not enough, the investigation into more 1200 members of the judiciary had been still being conducted. Openly you made us go crazy by your lists…Our profession life is composed of list chats; list of confessors, list of bylock, list of election, list of the possibility of not voting for the pro-government candidates in CJP elections, etc.. enough’s enough..you have fired almost 40 percent of the judiciary. What a meaningless forcing is that? If you are unable to settle this matter, get sack for all of us including me..both you and us get it out of this hell.. enough’s enough….”(11).
As you see, Turkish judiciary in such a case has become the most effective tool to purge the opponents after July 15 coup attempt. What else might be expected from such a judiciary whose one third has been fired from the profession or arrested and the most of the remaining is supporter of the ruling party AKP, what’s more, very little part of that not supporting AKP becomes silenced due to a fear…For such a judiciary, nor principles of United Nations Bangolar Judiciary Ethics neither principles of Budapest present importance! What matters for them is to make decisions not undermining the interests of the government and being on duty in this way. Indeed in a report issued by HRW, the oppression on Turkish judges and prosecutors are emphasized and stated that the judges and prosecutors are worried about their profession (12)”.
The fact that Turkey is a country where the prisons are full of human rights activists, deputies, academics, judges, prosecutors, teachers, businessmen, women and even 700 babies and also in the lead in arresting the most journalists in the world is only the face value of the devastating results of the above graphics.
2- http://www.ab.gov.tr/files/000files/2015/11/2015_turkiye_raporu.pdf s. 59
3- http://www.ab.gov.tr/files/5%20Ekim/son__2016_ilerleme_raporu_tr.pdf s. 68
4- http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/2-bin-745-hakim-ve-savci-icin-gozalti-karari-cikti-40149496;http://www.anayasa.gov.tr/icsayfalar/basin/kararlarailiskinbasinduyurulari/bireyselbasvuru/detay/pdf/2016-49158.pdf ; http://www.milliyet.com.tr/4-bin-251-hakim-ve-savci-ihrac-gundem-2484506/;https://twitter.com/HuseyinAygun62/status/798843161942470656;http://www.platformpj.org/judiciary-quashed-civilian-coup/ ; https://www.ahaber.com.tr/gundem/2017/05/29/7-bin-430-feto-suphelisi-tahliye-edildi
5- http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/feto-zanlisi-savci-cezaevinde-olu-bulundu-40224765; http://www.bidoluhaber.tv/seyfettin-yigit-intihar-etmediolduruldu.html