Human Rights Foundation (HRF) condemns the removal of 2,745 judges in Turkey without due process following the failed coup attempt to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. HRF urges the Turkish government to reinstate the judges immediately until proper investigations are carried out. The judges were purged based on accusations of connection to the attempted coup. Due to the speed and magnitude of the dismissals, there is a strong indication that criminal investigations required by law were bypassed. Under Turkey’s constitution, President Erdogan lacks the authority to fire judges. However, Erdogan loyalists at the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors, the entity responsible for supervision of the legal system, dismissed the judges.
“Turkey was founded on the principles of parliamentary democracy, division of powers, and secularism. Unfortunately, President Erdogan does not value these founding principles. Rule of law and political freedom have steadily declined under Erdogan’s rule. The dismissal of almost 3,000 judges without due process signifies the elimination of any vestiges of judicial independence in the country,” said HRF president Thor Halvorssen. “The judges’ alleged connection to the coup is merely an excuse to get rid of all independent judges and to establish a judicial branch that is subservient to the President. If Erdogan and his loyalists at the High Council do not reinstate the judges, Turkey’s competitive-authoritarian regime will move one step closer to becoming a full-fledged dictatorship,” added Halvorssen.
There has been speculation that the judges were targeted according to an "enemies list" put together by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the political party founded by Erdogan. The dismissed judges amounted to one-fifth of Turkey’s entire judicial branch, making an already government-controlled judiciary completely subservient to the executive. Following the failed military coup earlier this month, Erdogan announced a temporary suspension of the European Convention on Human Rights. Turkish authorities have detained and dismissed roughly 50,000 people, including more than 15,000 education workers, and have forced 1,577 university deans to resign.
Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.