ENJC suspends Turkey’s HSYK for noncompliance with judicial standards

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Prosecutors and judges stood up and applauded President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan when he entered the hall and when he finished his address during a ceremony on Sept. 1 opening the new judicial year, which was held for the first time at the presidential palace and protested by the main opposition leader and the head of the bar association because of the venue of the event.

The European Networks of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) has suspended the observer status of Turkey’s Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) and excluded it from participation in ENCJ activities for the mass suspension and dismissal of judges and prosecutors and the failure to comply with the European Standards for Councils for the Judiciary.

“The HSYK does not currently comply with the ENCJ Statutes and is no longer an institution which is independent of the executive and legislature ensuring the final responsibility for the support of the judiciary in the independent delivery of justice,” said a statement issued following a vote in the ENJC General Assembly gathered in The Hague on Dec. 8 to discuss and decide on the position of the HSYK in the association.

The ENCJ underlined that it has been following developments in the judiciary in Turkey since 2014 and has expressed its concern both in its correspondence with the HSYK and publicly in the Declaration of the Hague (June 2015), the Declaration of Warsaw (June 2016) and more recently after the mass suspension of judges and prosecutors and again following their dismissal.

Acknowledging the huge impact and subsequent national trauma caused by the events of an attempted coup on July 15, the ENCJ said, “Those responsible should be made accountable through an open, fair and impartial judicial process conforming with international standards.”

“Taking into account the failure of the HSYK to satisfy the ENCJ that its standards have been complied with, the statements of the HSYK, as well as information from other sources including the reports and statements of the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe and Human Rights Watch and the Venice Commission, the ENCJ decided that the actions and decisions of the HSYK, and therefore the HSYK as an institution cannot be seen to be in compliance with European Standards for Councils for the Judiciary,” said the ENJC in the statement.

“Therefore, the HSYK does not currently comply with the ENCJ Statutes and is no longer an institution which is independent of the executive and legislature ensuring the final responsibility for the support of the judiciary in the independent delivery of justice.”

“The General Assembly accordingly resolved to suspend, with no Council voting against, the observer status of the HSYK. Therefore, the HSYK is, for the time being, excluded from participation in ENCJ activities,” said the statement, adding that “the ENCJ is however open to staying in contact with the HSYK and is prepared to offer its assistance and guidance in setting out and compliance with the European Standards for Councils for the Judiciary.”

The Ankara Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation on Dec.1 into 192 judges and prosecutors as part of a witch-hunt targeting the Gülen movement, which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the government accuse of masterminding the failed coup attempt on

July 15.Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ announced in a statement on Nov. 10 that the HSYK had expelled 3,456 judges and prosecutors over links to the Gülen movement since July 15. According to the Turkey Purge website, 3,843 prosecutors and judges have been purged by the government in the same period.

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