Declaration of the CCPE concerning recent developments in Turkey as regards

some amendments to the national legislation on the judicial system

The Consultative Council of European Prosecutors (CCPE) has been approached by some organisations of judges and prosecutors or members thereof, regarding draft laws relating to judicial reform, or reorganisation of the judiciary in several Council of Europe member states.

Turkey, a member of the Council of Europe since 1949, is among those states, due to some amendments to the Turkish legislation on the judicial system and, in particular, on the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (the HCJP).

Concerns have been expressed about the compatibility of these amendments with international standards. The reform adopted by the Turkish Parliament on 15 February 2014 raised concerns because it strengthened significantly the powers of the government in the appointment of judges and prosecutors, allowing the Minister of Justice to intervene in the functioning of the HCJP. The independence of the judiciary could then be infringed, allowing the executive power to influence judicial proceedings.

The CCPE takes note that the Constitutional Court of Turkey annulled on 10 April 2014 many of these new provisions. This constituted a very positive step for guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary in Turkey. At the same time, not all the amendments were annulled by the Constitutional Court, and the remaining ones still raise concerns.

The CCPE would like to underline that the independence of justice is an essential value in a democracy governed by the rule of law, and in particular to refer to:

    - the Committee of Ministers Recommendation Rec(2000)19 on the role of public prosecution in the criminal justice system, which specifies the essential requirements for “recruitment, promotion and transfer of public prosecutors”;

    - the Committee of Ministers Recommendation Rec(2010)12 on judges: independence, efficiency and responsibilities;

    - paragraph 8 of the Opinion No.4(2009) of the CCPE and No.12(2009) of the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE), the “Bordeaux Declaration”, which refers to “independence of prosecutors”;

    - Opinions No. 1(2001), 4(2003) and 10(2007) of the CCJE concerning the status and duties of judges.

The CCPE draws particular attention to those remaining amendments that may result in allowing the Minister of Justice to interfere in the organisation and work of the HCJP, while the most recent European standards and, in particular, those defined by the Council of Europe, aim to ensure greater independence of bodies involved in the appointment and dismissal of magistrates, both judges and prosecutors.

The CCPE wishes to recall that the legislative, regulatory and institutional frameworks and rules in place in any country in respect of the status of judges and prosecutors and their guarantees must be seen to ensure their full independence. They must be granted security of tenure, proper financial remuneration, a suitable disciplinary status, professional training programmes decided autonomously and appropriate working conditions. The State must also ensure the safety of judges and prosecutors and avoid them being subject to pressure of any kind in the performance of their duties.

The CCPE remains available to provide any contributions deemed useful in the analysis of the legal situation in Turkey, particularly concerning public prosecutors.

The CCPE stands ready to assist the Turkish authorities by giving its opinion and advice if so requested, especially as regards the possible new legislation to be enacted after the decision of the Constitutional Court of Turkey. The CCPE will follow the further developments with interest and invites its member from Turkey to provide a report on the issues under consideration at the next meeting of the CCPE or the Working Group of the CCPE.

Strasbourg, 6 June 2014