TBB President Sağkan: There is political pressure in the trials, judges and prosecutors are afraid
7 September 2022
Stating that arrests in the country turned into early executions and detentions turned into intimidation, TBB (Union of Turkish Bar Associations) President Erinç Sağkan said, “There is political pressure in political actions and trials of political persons. ECHR decisions are not being implemented, judges and prosecutors are afraid.”(1)
The opening ceremony of the 2022-2023 Judicial Year was held by the Court of Cassation in its new building. In his speech at the ceremony, Lawyer Erinç Sağkan, President of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB), conveyed the problems experienced by lawyers as well as the problems of the judiciary. “In the last year, we have had a judicial year in which the rule of law has been further removed and unfortunately trust in the law in Turkey has reached the lowest level in history,” Sağkan said.
Sağkan explained the reason to Sözcü’s Saygı, Öztürk:
“For example, due to the lack of recognition and implementation of some European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) decisions, the ECtHR and the Committee of Ministers initiated a violation procedure against Turkey for the second time in its history after Azerbaijan. In a July 11 ruling, the court ruled unequivocally that the court’s decision had not been implemented. Now this is a question of judicial system. Because, when we look at the local court that does not implement the ECtHR decision other than the politicians discussing this, this is first and foremost a judicial problem. Because the authority that does not implement it is a court. As a matter of fact, this is a very heavy picture and we know that a process has started in which the consequences of this may be very heavy for our country.”
A new process has begun
The Istanbul Convention was left overnight, in violation of our Constitution. This also revealed a move away from the fight against violence against women. We see that a new process has started with the fact that the explicit provisions of the Constitution are not complied with and the Council of State does not say ‘stop’ to this. This is a bad example of the fact that tomorrow the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) can also be exited overnight and the judiciary will not say ‘stop’ to it.
Detentions for intimidation
Arrests turn into punishment and early execution, detentions turn into intimidation. We are living through a process in which freedom of expression is restricted by the use of the judiciary. The judiciary, which should say ‘stop’ to rights violations and violations of freedoms, has been turned into a tool in the creation of rights violations in our country. Therefore, the legal system in Turkey is in a very dark state. In the shadow of this black picture with examples, we have launched the new judicial year.
Regarding Sedat Peker’s statements, when I was the President of the Ankara Bar Association, I made a denunciation application to the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. Although more than a year has passed, there is still no information given to us. In other words, what kind of action was carried out, what was done, what was investigated, what was collected, we cannot get any information. As such, the basis of this situation is a step of distrust in the judiciary.
Its own members are doing the greatest damage to the judiciary
Erinç Sağkan stated that there is “political pressure” in political actions and trials of political figures. Noting that the judge of the court of first instance, who did not implement the decision of the Constitutional Court, was made deputy minister and promoted. Sağkan continued as follows: “The damage to the judiciary is primarily caused by its own members. A public prosecutor is discussed a lot. We see that a prosecutor who is said to have started his profession in 2018, whose experience is not yet sufficient – we have put aside the rule of law – is carrying out practices completely outside the current legal regulations and ordering arrests. The fact that the judge who tried to correct this – even though he clearly stated in his decision that there were no reasons for arrest – felt obliged to apply the judicial control provisions shows that that court was also under pressure. Because, as a lawyer, when we read that verdict, you cannot exercise judicial control in a file after it is clearly stated that the person has no suspicion of fleeing or blacking out the evidence, but the pressure is felt so heavily that when the court lifts the arrest warrant, I think it makes a very big mistake to balance it with house arrest in order to protect itself in some way.”
Prosecutors live in fear
Noting that it would not be possible to talk about a fully independent judicial system unless the guarantee of a judge could be provided, the President of the TBB said, “The main concern that public prosecutors are currently experiencing is to wake up one morning to a day when their profession has been taken away. This is a very heavy fear.”
The process of publication passed under the supervision of the Presidency
Explaining that the video recording and broadcasting of the opening ceremony of the judicial year hosted by the Court of Cassation took place under the supervision of the Presidency and that the issue had nothing to do with the Court of Cassation, TBB President Erinç Sağkan explained the censorship that took place:
Our current state was made public
“All broadcasting and recording procedures in this regard were carried out by the Presidency. We had previously been told that we would be given signal information for broadcasting, but it was not delivered to us despite our insistence on it. At the same time, we did not have the chance to make a broadcast from there because there was no internet and phone lines in our environment. All kinds of camera access was also forbidden. In my speech, I stated that Turkey’s judicial problems did not start from this day, but have come from a long time ago, but concrete policies have not been developed to solve them. I did not target an ideology, an era. I can say that it was a sad situation that was announced on September 1 how we are on the issues we criticize today, such as freedom of expression, freedom of fair trial and freedom of the press.”
What had happened earlier:
The Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) announced: “Publication of the speech of the President of the TBB, Erinç Sağkan, at the 2022-2023 Judicial Year Opening Ceremony was blocked”. (2)