Dozens of top appeals court members to boycott court ceremony at Erdoğan’s palace

Approximately 20 members of Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals have decided to abstain from attending a ceremony marking the beginning of the judicial year at the Turkish Presidency’s Congress and Culture Centre in Ankara, which is being boycotted by dozens of bar associations.

Having the ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Ankara will hinder judicial independence, a court member, who chose to remain anonymous, told Cumhuriyet newspaper, adding that the decisions were individual and not collectively made.

“We are against holding this ceremony under the supervision of a party leader. It should be held in a location far from political influence,‘’ the member further added, referring to ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The court member’s announcement follows that of 42 provincial bar associations, including those in Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir, who have declined the invitation to attend the event over ethical concerns in what has led to increased tension between the country’s judiciary and government.

The conflict arrives amid what the European Commission has called considerable backsliding in Turkey’s rule of law and the judiciary.

The Turkish President received vast powers as part of the country’s executive presidential system, which entered into force after presidential and parliamentary elections last year, including the right to appoint members of the powerful Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK).

Some 30 percent of the country’s judges and prosecutors were either dismissed or removed from duty in a crackdown following the July 2016 coup attempt.