Turkey: ICJ raises concerns at threats to the independence of judges, prosecutors and lawyers

In a briefing paper issued today, the ICJ raises concerns at measures eroding the independence of the judiciary, prosecution, and legal profession in Turkey, with serious consequences for protection of human rights.

The briefing paper Turkey: the Judicial System in Peril follows a research mission by the ICJ in December 2015.

It analyses developments in law and practice that have affected the independence of both the governing institutions of the judiciary and prosecution, and the security of tenure and independence of individual judges in practice. In particular:

  • the independence of the High Council for Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), the governing body of the judiciary, from executive influence has been substantially diminished;
  • punitive measures against judges who act contrary to the putative interests of the executive have chilled the climate for independent exercise of the judicial function;
  • prosecutions and dismissals of prosecutors, apparently related to their decisions in sensitive cases, have a damaging effect on autonomous decision making in the prosecution service; and
  • attacks on and threats to lawyers, in particular those engaged in the defence of human rights, have further compounded the problems in the justice system.

The briefing paper makes recommendations for action to address these developments.

It urges the executive and legislative authorities to refrain from all actions and rheto­ric contrary to the separation of powers, and emphasises the need to protect the safety of lawyers and other human rights defenders, and to undertake a prompt, thorough and independent investigation into the killing of the President of the Diyarbakir Bar Association, Tahir Elçi.

Turkey-Judiciary in Peril-Publications-Reports-Fact Findings Mission Reports-2016-ENG (full report in PDF)

Fact-finding mission reportsPublicationsReports