Chairmen of three major bar associations in Turkey, the Ankara, Istanbul and Diyarbakır bars, called for judicial independence and said the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) must be restructured, in interviews with news website Bianet on Tuesday.
What needs reforming is not the law, but the mentality in law enforcement, Ankara Bar Association Chairman Erinç Sağkan said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced a Judicial Reform Strategy Document in May last year, and parliament has passed three sets of bills since.
“But we have seen that judicial reform isn’t possible via legal amendments,” Sağkan said. “The necessary reform in mentality will come with making the judiciary independent.”
Sağkan criticised education quality in Turkey’s 120 law faculties, and proposed changes to the selection process for judges and prosecutors.
Among his suggestions were prioritising competence over references, and taping all interviews where a bar representative should be present.
Lawyers must be able to remain independent, and not face prosecution for taking on any client or be associated with any possible crime they may have committed, Sağkan said.
“Without such amendments, reiterating universal judicial principles like arrests being the last resort will not serve as judicial reform,” he added, criticising both Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül’s recent comments and what he called the politicisation of bar associations with the multiple bar law that Turkey passed this summer.