“As stated in its Constitution, Türkiye is a democratic, secular and social state of law. The ‘state of law,’ which is the common ground of all our state’s characteristics specified in our Constitution, is an emphasis of utmost importance with historical origins. In the past 20 years, we have made significant reforms to strengthen our country’s characteristic as a state of law,” Erdogan said speaking during the 2022-2023 Judicial Year Opening Ceremony at the Supreme Court in the capital Ankara.
“At the top of our agenda is the solution to lawyers’ problems. We want to renew the Attorneyship Law. Our goal is to strengthen the right to defense.”
“We are planning to introduce ‘legal protection insurance,’ which is known as legal insurance and has applications in different countries, to Türkiye as well,” he said.
Erdogan also spoke on efforts for a new constitution, reminding that the current Constitution was drafted following a military coup in 1982.
The president wants Türkiye to have a civilian-drafted constitution by 2023, coinciding with the centenary of the foundation of the Republic of Türkiye.
“Last year, we once again called on political parties to get our country a new constitution. We also did our own work and prepared a draft that was the basis for negotiations. Unfortunately, our call was also unanswered, and we could not receive any concrete draft Constitution from the other parties,” he said.
Erdogan also touched upon the functioning of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
Türkiye is marching toward its 2023 centenary with the goal of a more accessible and effective justice system. As part of this aim, Ankara last year announced its action plan. Türkiye’s Human Rights Action Plan aims to strengthen rights protections, individual freedoms and security, judicial independence, personal privacy, transparency and property rights, as well as to protect vulnerable groups and enhance administrative and social awareness of human rights.
Ankara has established a separate unit within the Justice Ministry to work on the rights and services to be offered to all victims of crime, especially children.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) also completed the fourth package of Türkiye’s judicial reform strategy last year. The package includes new regulations on access to justice, tax crimes and the judicial control system.
“The ECtHR is not just in its decisions, it is political. When it comes to Türkiye, it makes political decisions, but when it comes to France and Germany on the other hand, unfortunately, it makes opposite decisions,” Erdogan said.
The ECtHR and Ankara disagree on the ruling concerning the case of Osman Kavala, who faces charges over the 2013 Gezi Park protests.
Europe’s highest court said that Türkiye has failed to comply with its ruling that Kavala is immediately released from jail.
The ECtHR, based in Strasbourg, ruled in 2019 that Türkiye violated Kavala’s right to liberty, saying his detention and trials against him were used to silence him and in effect send a chilling message to civil society in Türkiye. The judgment to immediately release him became final in May 2020.
The Council of Europe launched infringement procedures against Ankara for refusing to abide by its ruling.