- Published: May 18, 2016
Legal policy starting point
The political situation in Turkey has been highly turbulent since the early summer of 2013, when the Gezi Park movement shook the country and exacerbated the already considerable polarisation of the political camps. Turkish society is still characterised by severe tensions, and this is reflected in the political landscape.
The Islamic-Conservative governing party AKP, which had ruled continually with an absolute majority since 2002, failed to secure a parliamentary majority in the elections which took place in June. For the first time in the history of the Republic of Turkey, the Democratic-Socialist HDP, a party which represents the concerns of the Kurd population, managed to overcome the ten-percent threshold. After it was not possible to build a coalition within the set period of 45 days after the elections, new elections were held on 1 November, which according to the official final result once more provided an absolute majority for the AKP, hence enabling it to govern alone.
The political tensions which have continued since 2013 also led to considerable staff changes within the judicial and police apparatus, and this affected the work of the IRZ in Turkey. The change of many previous contacts caused by this political situation led to uncertainties with regard to cooperation, which had been continually becoming better established until then. It was nonetheless possible to lay the foundations in discussions with the partner institutions in Ankara for ongoing cooperation, including with the new contacts in key positions, and the fundamental willingness to cooperate on the part of the Turkish partners remains evident. Building on this, the well-functioning cooperation which was implemented in recent years will be continued in order to strengthen the rule-of-law structures in Turkey by continuing the German-Turkish legal dialogue.
The IRZ has been supporting the comprehensive judicial reform in Turkey since 2007. After the number of partners and projects had continually increased in the previous years, 2015 was characterised more by finishing off existing projects and by engaging in discussions with the new contacts on benchmarks for cooperation moving forward.
The work therefore focussed on the questions regarding witness protection, on procedural law and the system of court experts, as well as on the introduction of judicial press units, which had been dealt within the ongoing projects. Furthermore, in the subsidy-funded area, in addition to and in continuation of twinning projects that had already been concluded, questions on the course of court instances in Germany were addressed, as were criminal law topics such as victim protection, domestic violence and cybercrime.
The main partners of the IRZ are the Turkish Ministry of Justice, the Justice Academy, the Bar, the Association of Notaries, the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors, the Court of Cassation (Yargitay), the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office at the Court of Cassation, and the Council of State (Danistay).
Foci of activity in 2015
Constitutional law / human rights and their enforceability
- Study on the promotion of the rule of law in Turkey
- Study visit to Karlsruhe by a delegation from the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office at the Court of Cassation of the Republic of Turkey on the topic of "The course of court instances in Germany"
Civil and commercial law
- German-Turkish legal policy forum on the topic of "The law on groups: regulation, practice and problems", together with the Faculty of Law of the Bilkent University in Ankara
- Study visit to Berlin by a delegation from the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office at the Court of Cassation of the Republic of Turkey on the topics of victim protection and domestic violence
- Study visit to Berlin on the topic of cybercrime
EU twinning projects
- Twinning project on witness protection with the Turkish police (from August 2013 to April 2015)
- Twinning project with the Turkish Ministry of Justice on the introduction of judicial press spokespersons (from May 2013 to October 2015)
- Twinning project with the Turkish Ministry of Justice on court experts (from January 2013 to June 2015)
The IRZ will also be continuing its consultation activities in Turkey in 2016. The overarching goal of the project is to enhance the rule of law, focussing on the excessive duration of court proceedings with their causes and impacts. This circumstance has been complained of several times in the past both by the European Court of Human Rights and by the Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe.
The IRZ will also continue to work together with the university partners. Bilateral follow-up activities are planned to take place on the twinning projects which have already been completed, in particular on the topic of witness protection.
In addition to the bilateral work on behalf of and funded by the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, cooperation with the Mercator GmbH Foundation is planned for 2016 on the topic of "Promotion of the rule of law in Turkey". It would be possible to implement a number of events in this context in cooperation with the Turkish partners.