20 Jul 2016

Turkish judges sacked en masse in post-coup crackdown

Turkey' highest judiciary council has suspended more than 2,700 judges, prosecutors and members of its own board in the wake of a failed military coup in the country.

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Approximately 2,745 judges and prosecutors were dismissed in one fell swoop at a meeting of Turkey’s Judges and Prosecutors High Council late last week for alleged links to US-based Muslim reformist leader Fethulla Gülen. According to reports in the Turkish press, the government has blamed the influence of Mr Gülen’s movement for the recent attempted military coup in Turkey that left at least 161 people dead. In addition to the mass sacking, at least ten members of the High Council have been remanded to custody while arrest warrants have been issued for 48 administrative court members and 140 appeals court members.

Rule of law concerns

Local legal leaders in England and Wales have been quick to weigh in on the possible impact of the mass sacking, with many fearing a significantly depleted judiciary may have implications for the rule of law in a country where post-coup tensions are still running high. ‘Stable legal institutions, an independent judiciary and a government accountable to the people are fundamental elements of a nation which is deeply rooted in the rule of law,’ commented Law Society president Robert Bourns, adding that only ‘reasons of incapacity or behaviour that renders them unfit to discharge their duties, in accordance with the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary’ should justify the removal of judges. Bar Council chair Chantal-Aimee Doerries QC added that she had ‘grave concerns’ about reports of substantial judicial arrests in Turkey. The Bar Council will reportedly be working closely with other European Bar institutions to coordinate a response to the situation in Turkey.

Sources: The Independent; Legal Cheek

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