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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Top Turkish judge: proposed constitutional amendments threaten judicial independence
Sarah Paulsworth at 1:54 PM ET

[JURIST] The proposed amendments [text, PDF; in Turkish] to Turkey’s Constitution [text, in Turkish] threaten separation of power and judicial independence, the president of Turkey's Supreme Court [official website, in Turkish] Hasan Gerceker [official profile, in Turkish] declared on Monday in an interview [video, in Turkish] televised on NTV [official website, in Turkish]. "I want to indicate very clearly that some of the proposals being made are completely contrary to the principal of separation of power which has been enshrined in the Constitution since it was first adopted," he said. The government has declared that the proposed changes comport [Reuters report] with European Union (EU) standards, but Gerceker said that does not mean they should be blindly applied in Turkey.

The Turkish government unveiled [JURIST report] the controversial proposed amendments to 22 articles of the Turkish Constitution on Monday in hopes of making the government more democratic and strengthening the country's bid to join the EU [admission criteria]. The proposed amendments cover a wide range of issues [Hurriyet report], including the judicial system, women's rights, and collective bargaining for civil servants. The major reforms proposed include an amendment that would make party closures more difficult and an amendment to restructure the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HYSK) and the Constitutional Court [official websites, in Turkish]. Also included is an amendment to Article 15, which bans the prosecution of the 1980 coup leaders. The reform movement, led by Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website, in Turkish], has been challenged by the opposition party Republican People's Party (CHP). The bill will now go before Parliament, where it must be approved by two-thirds of the 550 members to become law.

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