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Turkish opposition challenges new judicial control law

Turkey's main opposition party, the Republican People's Party (CHP) [party website], asked the nation's high court on Friday to overturn a newly enacted law granting parliament greater control over the judiciary. The CHP claims the law is an attempt by the controlling party to avoid the consequences of the recent graft inquiry. Amid protests over suspected government corruption and violence inside parliament, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website] pushed the bill though parliament, thereby granting the Justice Ministry greater control over the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) [official website]. The controversy has sparked protests, to which police have responded with force. Since the graft scandal broke, the Turkish government has transferred or dismissed thousands of police officers and hundreds of judges and prosecutors. The law, which was enacted [JURIST report] earlier this week, has already been used to appoint at least nine senior judges. In addition to appointing judges, the law would allow the Justice Ministry to fire or reassign thousands of administrative staff including secretaries-general, inspectors, audit judges and administrative staff

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 Tayyip Erdogan [BBC profile] Erdogan named [JURIST report] 10 new members of his cabinet following the resignation of three members under investigation for graft. The controversy has highlighted some of the issues surrounding Turkey's judicial system. 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. Yildirim and Ayhan have been detained since 2010 when they were each charged with links to the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) [party website]. This decision came after Turkey's top court ruled [Turkish Weekly report] that the long-term detention of another member of parliament of the opposing party pending trial was in contradiction to the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey.

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