As a ceremony for the opening of the new judicial year takes place at the presidential palace, 543 more judges and prosecutors have been dismissed by High Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) as part of a witch-hunt against the Gülen movement following a failed coup attempt on July 15.
According to a report by the T24 news portal, the number of dismissed judges and prosecutors has reached 3,390 since July 15 coup attempt.
A ceremony marking the opening of the new judicial year, which was protested by the main opposition leader and the head of the bar association because of the venue of the event, turned into a display of judicial support for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday.
Speaking at the ceremony Erdoğan claimed that the detention of 3,495 judges and prosecutors as part of the purge following the coup attempt will not create a weakness, but rather will pave the way for real justice.
“National interest” is the only criterion for all institutions including the judiciary, Erdoğan continued:
“The nation did its best that night [July 15]. Now it is our turn as the judiciary, legislature and executive. We need to work differently from now on. We don’t have the right to work according to any criteria other than national interests and the needs of our nation and state. Before July 15 and after it are different. It must be different.”
“Jailing judges without even the pretense of due process will cause profound damage to Turkey’s justice system for years to come,” said Emma Sinclair-Webb, Turkey director at Human Rights Watch, last month. “Bypassing the rule of law is no way to protect it.”
There are 14.661 prosecutors and judges working as part of the Turkish justice system.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ announced on Aug. 17 a government plan to name 8,000 new judges and prosecutors by the end of 2016.
Moves made by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) concerning the justice system have created further concern about government control of the judiciary.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has strongly criticized a ceremony opening the new judicial year at the presidential palace, saying judicial independence is now “in the service of the executioner.”
Remarking on the content of the speeches at the ceremony, the CHP leader said: “You [Erdoğan] make political statements during a judicial ceremony. You declare some things a crime. This is a disgraceful meeting. You politicized the judiciary. How can you expect them to make just decisions? He [Erdogan] asks the judiciary to speed up the judicial process. What kind of democracy is this?”