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How the Association for ‘Unity in Judiciary’ Shapes the Political Landscape of the Turkish Judiciary System

The Association of Cross Border Jurists (CBJ), has produced a critical report on the government-established ‘Association for Unity in Judiciary’ labeling it as the ‘shadow over the Turkish judiciary’. Authored by dismissed prosecutors Mehmet Bakır Özkan and Dr. Hasan Dursun, who are also members of the association, the report methodically illustrates the step-by-step politicization of the judiciary.

For the complete report, follow the provided link.

The report’s press release quotes, “Since the establishment of the Republic, the Turkish judiciary has consistently been a focus of the executive branch, with each government and its ideologies attempting to exert some form of influence, direction, and control over it. Yet, the judiciary has never been as overtly partisan and under the direct influence of the political administration as it has been during the AKP governments.”

It highlights the lack of sufficient attention on the Association for Unity in Judiciary (Platform) and its critical role in bringing the judiciary to such a compromised state, undermining its reputation, breaking its traditions, and hindering its ability to function according to its mission.

A key turning point: HSK elections An excerpt from the ‘Introduction’ of the report reads:

A judiciary not fully under governmental control could potentially hold Erdoğan, his family, close friends, and key figures within the AKP accountable. To avoid such a risk, the government moved to the next phase: If controlling every judge and prosecutor individually was not feasible, it needed a leadership team to manage the judiciary from the top. This objective hinged on controlling the HSYK elections in October 2014. Winning these elections required convincing the judiciary’s electorate of judges and prosecutors. In March 2014, the Erdoğan-AKP government and their supporters within the judiciary bureaucracy established the Association for Unity in Judiciary Platform (YBP), later to become an association, to organize the HSYK member elections, prevent undesired candidates from being elected, and arrange “alliance negotiations” with judge and prosecutor groups, excluding those labeled as “oppositional-parallel-traitors.”

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They secured the election victory with promises of expunging records, salary hikes, and office promotions. YBP subsequently transformed into the Association for Unity in Judiciary (YBD). With YBP, Erdoğan restructured the entire judiciary, subdued the opposition, and purged undesirable elements, creating a judiciary wholly obedient to him. The report critically examines the Association for Unity in Judiciary (YBD), identified as the principal architect of the deadlock engulfing the Turkish Judiciary. It meticulously details YBD’s formation, its political affiliations and strategies, and how the judiciary has been reshaped and directed through YBD.

Key contents of the report

The report meticulously explores YBD’s role in the elimination phase of judges and prosecutors not aligned with the government and its supporters, its involvement in profiling, and subsequent mass purges.

It also sheds light on the activities of YBD-affiliated judges and prosecutors in key judicial bodies like the HSK, Court of Cassation, Council of State, Constitutional Court, Supreme Election Board, and the Ministry of Justice, supported by statistical data.

A significant portion of influential judges and prosecutors within the Turkish judicial system, such as Chief Public Prosecutors, Presidents of Heavy Penal Courts, and Judges of Peace Criminal Courts, are also noted to be members or supporters of YBD, an important point of emphasis in the report.

This historical document illuminates the politicization of the Turkish judicial system and the underlying reasons for its decisions, offering valuable insights for researchers seeking to understand these dynamics. The final section of this 77-page report also includes a comprehensive list of YBD-affiliated judges, prosecutors, and senior judiciary members.

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