Judges, prosecutors to be educated about domestic violence
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULMay 16, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
May 16, 2016 12:00 am
At a time when courts face criticism for handing down lenient sentences to perpetrators of domestic violence, the government has taken steps to improve the understanding of the judiciary. Judges and prosecutors across the country will be educated on gender equality, domestic violence and the regulations of the Ministry of Family and Social Policies on the issue. The ministry is spearheading the project.
Answering questions from deputies during a recent session of the Parliament, Minister Sema Ramazanoğlu said that the training will be initially for a small number of judiciary members, but they plan to include the training in the curriculum of vocational training for judges and prosecutors.
Though Turkey has a series of laws that impose harsh sentences for domestic violence offenses, their interpretation often lead to lower sentences for convicted offenders, as most courts tend to commute sentences based on the "good conduct" of offenders (defendants expressing regret or behaving well during the hearings) and "unjust provocation," a controversial legal clause enabling offenders to get away with reduced sentences if the victim of domestic violence has cheated on them.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ Sentence recently denounced reductions in cases of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Bozdağ told reporters in March that reductions stemming from "unjust provocation" and "good conduct in the hearings" were not binding by law and was simply something "at the disposal of judges," while he implied that loopholes causing courts to hand down reductions may be entirely eliminated.
The Supreme Court of Appeals occasionally overturns sentences reduced by local courts and sometimes revokes sentences in domestic violence cases that have been commuted due to legal complaints lodged by the Family and Social Policies Ministry.
"The laws are not problematic. It is entirely about interpretation. Courts are not obliged to reduce sentences," said Bozdağ. "Judges reducing sentences quash Article 62 [of the Constitution] rather than applying it," he added, referring to the article that enables courts to issue lighter sentences even in cases calling for life imprisonment such as homicide. "The Supreme Court should block [reductions]. We have already taken steps to stop this, but the article remains in place. If necessary, we may change it to include a clause that would stop the reduction of sentences just because a defendant wore a tie and came to hearings clean-shaven," he said.