Dec 22 2017

Erdoğan’s contempt for the rule of law hits Turkish judiciary - activist

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan allied with ultra-nationalists to purge thousands of judges and prosecutors and set up new courts to target dissidents, said Uğur Tok, the director of the Brussels-based organisation Platform for Peace and Justice. 

Erdoğan does not hesitate to disregard due process when he wants to silence his domestic critics or when he demands the extradition of his enemies in exile, Gök said.

Erdoğan recently offered to ‘swap’ a U.S. citizen, pastor Andrew Brunson, for Reza Zarrab, the billionaire businessman who was the prime suspect of the Dec. 2013 graft probe that involved Erdoğan’s family and cabinet members.

Amnesty Turkey’s chair Taner Kılıç, well-known philanthropist Osman Kavala, and former head of Association of Judges and Prosecutors Murat Arslan are all in jail. The list includes Selahattin Demirtaş and a dozen MPs from the country’s Kurdish opposition party Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).

To ensure such control over the judiciary, Erdoğan’s ruling party introduced ‘Criminal Peace Justices’ in 2014, Tok wrote, a move which was criticised by the European Commission’s Venice Commission for violating the principles of natural justice.

Following the July 2016 coup attempt, a crackdown hit the judiciary, nearly 5,000 judges and prosecutors being dismissed and almost 2,500 jailed.

“If the arbitrary and grave human rights violations do not cease in the near future, Turkey will become another Syria,” Tok said.