Turkey: Strengthening Witness Protection Capacities

Seminar on witness protection at the Judicial Academy in Antalya

Seminar on witness protection at the Judicial Academy in Antalya

EU twinning

Project Leader: Dr. Stefan Trunk
RTA: Michael Hubel
Responsible at the IRZ: Dr Julie Trappe, Carolin Rama, Beatrix Tatay

The project entitled "Strengthening Witness Protection Capacities", which had been running since August 2013, was concluded on 20 April 2015, after a two-month extension. The overall goal of the Twinning project was to increase the performance of the Turkish National Police, the Gendarmerie General Command and the judiciary with regard to effective witness protection along European lines.

The project was broken down into three components in order to better achieve the goal:

Component 1

The Turkish provisions on witness protection were analysed in a first step. The project team recommended changes where shortcomings were identified, and developed a strategy paper which was to form the foundation for a re-orientation of Turkish witness protection.

Component 2

The need for training in the Turkish judiciary and police was identified in a further step. Following on from this, the project team drew up training programmes, which were then carried out with the partner institutions. The benchmarks that were defined were achieved and even exceeded. A best practice manual was drawn up and distributed among all the partners.

Component 3

The third step consisted of the project team holding a three-day conference, together with members of the three partner organisations, which was attended by representatives from a total of twelve Turkish Ministries. The conference drew up a Memorandum of Understanding in which the departments in question and their subordinate units undertook to take the interests of witness protection into account in future.

With the cooperation of all three partner organisations, a written declaration on the part of the Turkish National Police was additionally drawn up and signed which guarantees the willingness of Turkey to provide support in international witness protection. This cooperation declaration was manifested at an international conference headed by Europol and attended by representatives from more than 40 states.

In a total of four study visits, the Turkish participants from the judiciary, the National Police and the Gendarmerie General Command familiarised themselves with the functioning of witness protection in various European host countries.

During the implementation phase of the Twinning project, it was possible via project management to make two real international requests to the Turkish Department of Witness Protection and to implement them to the satisfaction of the foreign units.

The overall impact of the project on the Turkish partner organisations was highly satisfactory, and considerably consolidated the joint perception of witness protection, which constitutes an effective weapon in the fight against terrorism and organised crime.

 

Funded by the European Union

 

Turkey: Improved Court Expert System

EU twinning

Project Leader: Rainer Dopp
RTA: Hans-Peter Schmieszek
Responsible at the IRZ: Rita Tenhaft, Christine Stiller, Dr. Julie Trappe, Johannes Schlicht

After a term of 30 months, the EU Twinning project entitled "Improved Court Expert System" came to a successful conclusion in June 2015. The Turkish court expert system was and still is one of the major problems facing the Turkish justice system. When the project commenced at the beginning of 2013, it was estimated that court experts were being appointed in approx. 80 percent of civil proceedings, roughly 40 percent of criminal proceedings and about 15 percent of administrative proceedings, in some cases also several expert reports and without sufficiently examining their evidentiary relevance.

The first phase of the project consisted of an analysis of the system of court experts in Turkey concerning motor vehicle accidents, construction defects, medical malpractice and industrial accidents. Subsequently, a scheme for improved practice was developed and tested in practice at five Pilot Courts in Istanbul, Antalya, Manisa, Samsun and Urfa. It became clear that judges and public prosecutors would not change their practice when it came to commissioning court experts until there was a change in the case-law practice of the Supreme Court and they did not need to fear that their judgments would be set aside because they had not commissioned expert reports.

The project thus focussed on the approach of creating an appropriate awareness of the problem among judges in the Supreme Court, and hence bringing about a change in the procedural principles in the Supreme Court. To this end, many regional and supra-regional congresses, symposia and seminars were carried out at which the European standards were illustrated and discussed, in particular for the taking of evidence by experts, the selection of experts and the standards of expert reports. The IRZ organised study visits of Turkish delegations to Germany, Austria, Sweden and France. A change in the practice of the Supreme Court can now be observed.

As the project continued, more than 600 members of the judiciary and experts have been trained and certified as trainers, with the aim in mind that they should act as multipliers in future. All in all, more than 550 counselling days have been provided in the project with a budget of 1.5 million Euro.

In addition to the courts, the professional chambers and experts' associations have been involved in the discussion. The talks between the professional chambers, the judiciary and the Ministry of Justice in this regard focussed on the selection, qualification, certification, further training and monitoring of experts, as well as on the structures of expert reports. There was considerable willingness on the part of the organisations to help bring about improvements.

The Turkish Government is maintaining sustained efforts to reform the court expert system, and in order to do so established a research commission in February, which submitted a draft Court Expert Act at the beginning of May on the basis of the preliminary work that was carried out. This draft stipulates the central principles of the court expert system and provides for a system for approving expert witnesses as court experts. The new Act is to come into force as per 1 July 2016.

 

 

Funded by the European Union