Skip to main content

Massive reshuffle of judges, prosecutors is new blow to Turkish judiciary

Judicial independence in Turkey has suffered a severe blow earlier this month as thousands of judges and prosecutors were reassigned overnight.
Read in 

Turkey’s government has long been under fire for reorganizing the judiciary to bring it under its firm control. In what is seen as a major milestone to that effect, the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), the body overseeing judicial appointments and disciplinary measures, issued a decree June 5 reassigning some 3,750 judges and prosecutors across the country. The massive reshuffle suggests that the notion of a judiciary “working in harmony with the executive,” promoted by the HSYK deputy head, Mehmet Yilmaz, is being duly put into action. The decree contains a number of reassignments whereby judges and prosecutors whose rulings have pleased the government were promoted, while those who irked it were downgraded.

The judiciary has long been the subject of major shuffles by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the most significant of which was a constitutional amendment approved in a September 2010 referendum. The amendment, presented as a major reform strengthening democracy and the rule of law, modified the composition of the HSYK and the Constitutional Court and the way their members are elected. Then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and government spokesmen claimed the judiciary had finally become independent and impartial. Ensuing elections to the HSYK were greeted with similar messaging. The narrative abruptly changed, however, in December 2013, when a large-scale corruption investigation implicating ministers, crony businessmen and members of Erdogan’s family rattled Ankara.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.