’Gov’t should question itself instead of slamming top court’


The Constitutional Court made headlines in the last few weeks for its noteworthy rulings which drew harsh criticisms from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

One of these rulings was lifting a two-week-long block on Twitter access, with the Constitutional Court overruling a local court’s decision to uphold the ban. Access to Twitter as well as YouTube was blocked ahead of the March 30 elections following the wide online circulation of leaked phone conversations involving government officials, including the prime minister.

Another remarkable ruling by the top judicial court was last week’s partial annulment of the newly adopted law on the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK). The bill in question had been widely debated before it was signed into law as it violated the Constitution in terms of judicial independence by granting the government greater powers over the judiciary. After the latest decisions by the top court, Prime Minister Erdoğan accused the Constitutional Court of interfering in politics.

Bugün daily columnist Nazlı Ilıcak wrote in her Tuesday piece that with the partly annulled HSYK law, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government was planning to control the HSYK and the appointments and reassignments of judges and prosecutors through the justice minister, who was empowered under this new law to determine which member of the HSYK would operate in which chamber. The first chamber of the HSYK, which includes the Justice Ministry undersecretary as a member, was given additional powers such as nominating candidates for board rapporteurs and supervisors. The Constitutional Court, however, ruled that this was in violation of the Constitution, Ilıcak explained. Rapporteurs and HSYK supervisors will now be directly appointed by the HSYK General Assembly, like they were before the amendment, according to Ilıcak. The HSYK law also increased the justice minister’s control over supervisors of the HSYK, which was also annulled by the Constitutional Court last week, Ilıcak noted. Another article of the new law which was canceled by the Constitutional Court was the power briefly granted to the justice minister to launch disciplinary actions against HSYK members.

According to Ilıcak, the government should question itself for making mistakes and failing to comply with the Constitution while drafting laws, instead of slamming the Constitutional Court. In reference to the government’s reassignments within the HSYK after the adoption of the new law, Ilıcak said: “Those who were appointed to the HSYK after the reassignments apparently took office unconstitutionally. They should at least resign as employees of a body which should respect the rule of law the most,” Ilıcak commented.

Ahmet İnsel, a columnist with the Radikal daily, commented in his Tuesday piece that the latest annulments of the Constitutional Court are direct implementations of the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECtHR) judicial opinions. According to İnsel, the government and representatives of pro-government groups are trying to acquire absolute power and create a homogenous society in terms of culture and politics. “Previously, there were others who explicitly voiced such a desire and toppled governments via the armed forces in Turkey,” said İnsel.