Europe-wide judges’ body suspends membership of Turkish judiciary

Europe-wide judges' body suspends membership of Turkish judiciary

A Europe-wide body for judges has suspended the membership of Turkey’s judiciary owing to evidence that it is no longer independent of the country’s executive and legislature.

It is a condition of membership of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ), and for the status of observer, that institutions are independent.

However, the procedures adopted by the High Council for Judges and Prosecutors of Turkey (HSYK) suggested it was no longer free from the influence of the other branches of government.

The ENCJ’s stated aim is to unite “the national institutions in the Member States of the European Union which are independent of the executive and legislature, and which are responsible for the support of the Judiciaries in the independent delivery of justice”.

The General Assembly of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary gathered in The Hague last week to discuss and decide on the position of the HSYK in the association.

The ENCJ has been following developments in the judiciary in Turkey since 2014 and has expressed concern on a number of occasions including recently, after the mass-suspension of judges and prosecutors and again following their dismissal.

ENCJ said the HSYK has been given ample opportunity to explain its actions and did so by sending a resolution of the 31st August and by explaining the situation at the extraordinary General Assembly in The Hague on 8th December 2016.

The ENCJ acknowledged the huge impact and subsequent national trauma caused by the failed coup against the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on 15th July this year and said those responsible should be made accountable through an open, fair and impartial judicial process conforming with international standards.

But taking into account evidence from a number of sources, the organisation decided ultimately that Turkey’s judiciary “cannot be seen to be in compliance with European Standards for Councils for the Judiciary”.

The General Assembly “accordingly resolved to suspend, with no council voting against, the observer status of the HSYK”.

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