[JURIST] A judge for the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals on Tuesday ordered the release [press release] of Turkish judge Aydin Sefa Akay who was detained in July. The order stresses that the Turkish government should release Akay and “cease all legal proceedings against” the judge before February 14 so that he can resume his role in a Rwandan genocide case. The court held that pursuant to the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations [text, PDF] judges serving on the Mechanism receive certain immunities during their time in service. Denying the proposal that Akay be replaced, the court stated that doing so would be a rejection of “judicial independence, … justice, [and] what is right.”
Since the failed coup in Turkey in July, where Turkish military forces tried to overthrow the government, the Turkish government has taken several controversial steps to strengthen its power. Earlier this month the Turkish Parliament approved a plan [JURIST report], which, if approved by vote later this year, would increase presidential power within the country and would allow President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to stay in office until 2029. In November Turkey significantly restricted the activities of NGOs like human rights organizations and children’s groups and arrested opposition party leaders [JURIST reports] alleging they were connected to terror organizations. In October Human Rights Watch warned [JURIST report] that the emergency decrees put in place after the failed coup, had resulted in serious human rights violations. In July Amnesty International condemned [JURIST report] Turkey for attacking the freedom of the press by issuing arrest warrants for 42 journalists.