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Turkish president signs law increasing government control over judiciary

Turkish President Abdullah Gul [BBC backgrounder] approved a law on Wednesday which increases government control over the appointment of judges and prosecutors in the country. The new law [Reuters report] grants the Ministry of Justice [official website] greater control over the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) [official website, in Turkish], an independent body responsible for appointing members of the judiciary. The bill was signed into law amidst rising controversy [Today's Zaman report] since the law was approved by parliament [JURIST report] on February 15. The law was given final parliamentary approval [JURIST report] earlier this week and has sparked protests over suspected government corruption. The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) [party website] is expected to file a challenge to the law in Turkey's Constitutional Court [official website, in Turkish].

Turkish lawmakers have been on the defensive in recent months as the government faces allegations of corruption and authoritarianism. In February the Turkish parliament approved [JURIST report] legislation to heighten Internet restrictions, granting the country's telecommunications authority the ability to block websites or remove content without the court's approval. In December Prime Minister Recep Tayipp Erdogan [BBC backgrounder] named [JURIST report] 10 new members of his cabinet following the resignation of three members under investigation for graft. Also in December a Turkish court rejected [JURIST report] bids to release two members of the parliament for the Kurdish Peace and Democratic Party (BDP), Gulser Yildirim and Ibrahim Ayhan, who have been detained since 2010 when they were each charged with links to the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

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