30 October 2013
Eda Ay - Anadolu Ajansı
The European Union – Council of Europe Joint Programme on Strengthening the Court Management System which was carried out in Turkey for 29 months has come to an end.
The participants of the closing conference which rendered an overview on the activities organised and results achieved under the Project were the officials from the European Union, Council of Europe, Ministry of Justice as well as the members of the judiciary.
Mr Philippe Boillat, Director General of Human Rights and Rule of Law of the Council of Europe thanked in his speech Mr Sadullah Ergin, Turkish Minister of Justice and his colleagues as well as all judges and prosecutors for their contributions in the project to strengthen the court management system.
Mr Boillat drew attention to the fact that all the efforts made by the Turkish Ministry of Justice were clear evidence of Turkey’s commitment to continue to modernise and upgrade its court management system.
Mr Boillat emphasized that fair and efficient judicial proceedings were cornerstones for building people’s trust in the judiciary and allowed them to be confident that they were governed by the rule of law.
Mr Boillat said “Without actual rule of law, democracy cannot be guaranteed”.
Mr Boillat stated that the authorities showed their strategic vision by addressing one of the main symptoms of a dysfunctional judicial system and one of the main reasons for people’s mistrust in the judiciary, namely the at times excessive length of proceedings.
Mr Boillat said that some of the Turkish cases ended up at the European Court of Human Rights due to excessive length of proceedings and continued:
"The Ministry of Justice has clearly understood that the objective of our project - to ensure a speedy trial and achieve a lasting reduction in adjudication times - can only be achieved through well-conceived structural changes in the working practices and working environment of courts and their staff, including judges and prosecutors. This project has been turned into concrete action, resulting in both organisational and physical changes in the pilot court houses. I am very grateful to all pilot Court Houses for their work and to the international experts as well as all stakeholders who have devoted their time and efforts to the project. Now the time has come to formally hand over the knowhow and solutions delivered by the Council of Europe under the Programme to the Turkish Government. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to draw as much as possible on the achievements of the project by following up and disseminating the new practices and solutions. This key responsibility of sustainability rests first and foremost with the Turkish Ministry of Justice. Continued and long-term efforts will be needed to ensure that the new court management system is successfully implemented throughout Turkey. I look forward to seeing these positive results translated into a decrease in the number of Article 6 cases reaching the European Court of Human Rights".
Mr Boillat expressed appreciation of the Council of Europe to Minister Ergin for the fruitful co-operation between his Ministry and the Council of Europe and confirmed the readiness of the Council of Europe to continue to support the Turkish authorities in implementing the new court management system.
Mr Boillat said "Our work until now has shown how effective we can be together in strengthening and improving the functioning of the court system in this beautiful country – Turkey".
-Mr Marteil, First Counsellor: "Judicial reforms will serve to the democracy"
Mr Erwan Marteil, First Counsellor of the Delegation of the European Union to Turkey stated that project implementation ensured that the court processes became more equitable, understandable and transparent.
Mr Marteil, telling that so big changes brought challenges as well for judges, prosecutors and lawyers, pointed out "These changes have been carried out in order to handle some of the concerns voiced. Improvement will take time however good results will be achieved by dialogue".
Mr Marteil noted that the Project offered solutions about Turkey’s violation decisions before the ECtHR and the judicial packages enacted by the Government were evaluated positively.
Mr Marteil also made comments on the EU Progress Report and said that the report included positive evaluations about Turkey as well as the shortcomings of the Turkish criminal justice system. Mr Marteil said "The Progress Report underlines the balanced and event-based progress and shortcomings. The European Union has now been convinced about the progress concerning the political reforms. These are the two sides of medallion".
Mr Marteil evaluated the remarks by Mr Sadullah Ergin, Turkish Minister of Justice on the report and stated that it was important Mr Ergin said positive steps would be taken on the issues criticised in the report.
Mr Marteil said that Turkey could rely on the EU support on the alignment of the judiciary and added "Functions and efficiency of the Turkish courts need to be improved. Turkish authorities are trying different methods to this end. The Courts of Appeal as well as mediation and expert mechanisms need to be improved; alternative dispute resolution methods should be put into practice. Judicial reforms will serve to the democracy finally".
-Mr Kaynak, Deputy Minister: "Good practices have been standardised".
Mr Veysi Kaynak, Deputy Minister of Justice stated that the Project was one of the issues that Mr Sadullah Ergin, Minister of Justice attached importance however he could not participate in the closing conference because of his personal agenda.
Mr Kaynak emphasized that taking necessary measures to safeguard judicial independence, strengthen impartiality and ensure access to justice as well as trust in judiciary was amongst the most important duties of the state and reminded that many recommendations referred to the fact that justice should function in a speedy, independent, impartial and transparent manner.
Mr Kaynak stated that speedy, independent, impartial and transparent trials constituted essence of the reforms carried out recently and added "The most important one among these activities is the establishment of a new court management system which will reduce the workload of the judiciary, shorten the proceedings and help us receive more efficient results".
Mr Kaynak, reminding the previous project which was carried out with the selected courthouses under the cooperation of the Ministry of Justice and Council of Europe, noted that the Project on Strengthening the Court Management System was signed in order to disseminate positive outputs of the initial project across the other courthouses as well.
Mr Kaynak provided information about the activities carried out under the Project and remarked that the Project on Strengthening the Court Management System standardised the best practices which were produced, appreciated and generally accepted by the first project.
Mr Kaynak concluded his words by saying that the project surveys proved that the project implementations were welcomed by the citizens.
Flash news from Mr Ahmet Hamsici, Deputy President of the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HCoJP). Age limit will be 30 for judges and prosecutors...
Mr Ahmet Hamsici, Deputy President of the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HCoJP) stated that they were planning to bring an age limit of 30 for judges and prosecutors and the relevant work would be finalised in a short time. He also added that the judges and prosecutors who had not completed the age of 30 would be employed as “Judicial Services Experts”.
In the Symposium held in Antalya on Training the Members of the Judiciary for an Effective and Efficient Judiciary, Mr Hamsici explained that they assessed the issues of education and training of the law professionals and elaborated on education in the law schools, pre-service training and in-service training for members of the judiciary.
Mr Hamsici, saying that some academicians in the law schools remarked that they provided education for jurists not for judges, prosecutors or lawyers, noted that his colleagues experienced various problems when they first started their professions since the law schools did not provide practical knowledge.
Mr Hamsici complained about the lack of number of judges and prosecutors in Turkey and said “The number of judges and prosecutors is not sufficient in Turkey. We nearly have the same population with Germany and the workload in the courts is not very different but they handle the same amount of work by 25 thousand judges and prosecutors while we do the same work by 13 thousand judges and prosecutors”.
The age limit is 23 for women and 25 for men
Mr Hamsici noted that the legal arrangement which allowed those who had worked for a certain time as a lawyer to work as candidate judges should be drafted again and this implementation should be put in practice; and he added “The one who comes from the defence side of the bench knows the courts well, he has professional experience, he gets in and out of the registry, he knows the judgments, hearings and so on. He will use these experiences better when he becomes a judge or prosecutor”.
Mr Hamsici who criticised that judges and prosecutors started their careers at young ages said that a woman became judge or prosecutor at the age of 23 and this age was 24-25 for a man due to military service. Telling that these were very young ages and a legal arrangement was under way on that issue; Mr Hamsici concluded “There is a plan that those under 30 will not be accepted as judges or prosecutors. The new graduates will work as judicial services experts for a certain time and then they will be employed as judges or prosecutors”.