Turkey says enactment of legal reform package priority for Parliament

The first item on the agenda of Turkish parliament when it reconvenes in October will be enacting the long-awaited judicial reforms to address the country’s alarming record on rights and freedoms, Turkish Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül said on Wednesday.

Turkey’s new reform package, unveiled on May 30, aims to streamline the judicial system and ensure basic rights and freedoms, which were severely curtailed in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in July, 2016.

Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government implemented a two-year state of emergency after the coup attempt. Many of the enhanced powers granted to governors and security forces under emergency rule have been extended under the new executive presidential system, in place since last year.

"We have prepared the Judicial Reform Strategy Document together with all participants. There are practices that will be implemented with ministerial decisions, as well as ones that require laws and bylaws. All of these have been laid on the table,’’ independent news site T24 quoted Gül as saying during the 11th Ambassadors Conference in Ankara.

Gül said the justice ministry would exert efforts to ensure that the Turkish judicial system is built on justice, truth and honesty.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who unveiled the package, has said the regulations show Turkey’s commitment to full EU membership.

The judicial reform package follows harsh criticism by the European Union in its progress reports of the erosion in the rule of law in Turkey.

Turkey, which has jailed more than 77,000 people since the failed putsch, ranks 109th out of 126 countries in the 2018-2019 Rule of Law Index prepared by the influential non-profit civil society organisation World Justice Project.

The EU has also called for changes in Turkish anti-terror law in relation to negotiations over granting Turkish citizens visa-free travel in Europe.

According to a survey by polling company Konda, 72 percent of Turks see justice as a key issue for the country.

Turkey’s parliament is set to convene on Oct. 1