Roundtable meetings were held in Ankara on 26-27 May 2022 on Improving the Implementation of the Best Interests of the Child within the scope of the EU-CoE Joint Project on "Improving the Effectiveness of Family Courts: Better Protection of the Rights of Family Members".
The meetings were held with the aim of ensuring the right decisions are made in the process of determining the best interests of the child regarding determination of custody and establishment of personal contact in divorce cases and focused on several issues, including development of child-friendly approaches, in particular the child's participation in the procedures, and the child's views on the determination of custody and personal contact according to the child's mental capacity, age and education.
On the first day of the meeting, opinions of members of the judiciary -the Court of Cassation, Regional Courts of Justice, and family courts and of lawyers- were received, and on the second day opinions of judicial support workers involved in the best interests of the child procedures were sought. Representatives of the General Directorate of Legislation and the General Directorate of Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Justice also participated in the meeting.
During the meeting, Council of Europe project consultants Dr. Ruth Farrugia, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Gamze Turan Başara, Dr. Selenga Gürmen and Research Assistant Eren Özdemir guided the discussions with their presentations on the comparative evaluation of the best interests of the child principle, shaping best interest assessments from a psycho-social perspective, the international framework on child-friendly justice and independent representation of the child, and the child's participation rights in the best interests assessment.
Following this meeting, a "Benchmarking and Recommendations Report" will be prepared by the team of consultants, summarising comparative standards and practices on the best interests of the child determination procedures, the legal framework governing these procedures and recommended actions, and addressing the issues raised in the meetings. This report will also establish the framework for the "Assessment Tool for the Determination of the Best Interests of the Child by Family Courts", which will be developed in the scope of a separate activity.
The “Improving the Effectiveness of Family Courts: Better Protection of the Rights of Family Members” Project is co-funded by the European Union and the Council of Europe and implemented by the Council of Europe and Justice Academy of Turkey. The Project aims to ensure rule of law and fundamental rights in Turkey as fully in line with international and European standards and to improve the effectiveness of family courts in protecting the rights of women, children, and other family members.