EP’s Oomen-Ruijten: Judicial independence no longer exists in Turkey

European Parliament rapporteur on Turkey Ria Oomen-Ruijten has said it is impossible to talk about judicial independence in Turkey following the Turkish government’s recently establishment of firm control over the judiciary.
Speaking in Brussels at a news conference after the preparation of the annual EP progress report on Turkey, which reviews the latest developments in the country’s political landscape, Ruijten argued that the Turkish justice minister is now able to give orders to prosecutors and judges, referring to recent legislation that granted the government broad powers over the judiciary following the restructuring of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), the top legal body responsible for the regulation of judicial affairs, including the appointment of judges and prosecutors.

“We are calling on Turkey to end this. Because there must be judicial independence according to the Copenhagen criteria. Separation of powers, for us, is the most critical binding element in all European countries,” said Oomen-Ruijten while pointing to growing concerns over the state of the judiciary in Turkey, which raised eyebrows in Brussels after it did not back down from passing a controversial HSYK law despite all warnings.

At a time when the whole region is going through turbulent times, including now Ukraine and Russia, Turkey is still an indispensable strategic partner for Europe, Oomen-Ruijten underlined, saying that the EU needs Ankara more than ever to forge a common policy against Russia and to build peace in the region.

For this, she stressed, Ankara has to keep up with reforms to stay on the EU course.

Emine Bozkurt, another member of the EP from the Netherlands, said the report employs balanced language to keep Turkey’s EU goal alive, while also reminding Ankara of the homework it has to do concerning the rule of law, civic rights and democracy.

Brussels has been appalled by the recent developments concerning the judiciary, the rule of law, judicial independence and media freedom in Turkey after the government introduced a number of controversial pieces of legislation curbing individual freedoms and the right of access to information, among others.


About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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