The new judicial reform strategy, a road map for the upcoming court year, was explained in detail Friday by Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül, who underlined that the principle of the rule of law will be deepened and enhanced to ensure basic rights and freedoms. "The new judicial reform document reflects the voice of the 82-million-strong Turkish nation," Gül told journalists during a press conference in Ankara. Indicating that each individual has the right to a fair trial, Gül noted the necessity of maintaining the trust of the people that courts function on the basis of independence, objectivity and justice is of vital importance.
"Our first package in judicial reform covers regulations that secure freedoms of thought and speech," the justice minister said. The reform, which is under the principle of "confidential and accessible justice," declares the will to enhance and broaden freedoms and strengthen democracy based on human dignity, rights and freedoms.
In the press meeting, Gül also announced that authorities are working on a new human rights action plan and a separate study on this matter will be conducted by the ministry. "We will settle disputes between the public or between the public and citizens by peaceful means," Gül said. Almost half of the courts are working on cases of the Directorate General for Highways against that of the railways or citizens' cases against the government.
"We also expect family mediation based on the court to enter into force in this period," Gül added. That is to say, the process will be carried out more rationally, especially for women and children so they are not ill-treated. After the scope of reconciliation was broadened for the first time, 582,410 files resulted in reconciliation starting in January 2017.
On the other side, he also said that the Turkish judicial system has undergone unique tests that no other country with the rule of law ever witnessed and that the country still did not give up on its fight for justice and law against all covert networks, including the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). Gül said that the security-freedom balance needs to be protected and he believes "the fight against terrorism is in fact a fight for human rights." Turkey has been pursuing the fight against FETÖ, the PKK terrorist group, the Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) and Daesh terrorist groups simultaneously for many years now. As part of the fight against terrorism, the country has been conducting counterterrorism operations in and outside Turkey, especially in northern Syria and Iraq.
Stressing that justice is the foundation of the nation, the minister said that the main element in reinforcing tranquility, social peace, economy and ensuring social and cultural development is the manifestation of justice. It was underlined that the main target of the government was to establish an atmosphere where every individual felt safe no matter their ethnicity, social status, age or thought. This court year's main approach is expected to be in this regard.
Furthermore, saying that this document will not be limited to one package, Gül said: "As the Ministry of Justice, we invited everyone in Turkey who wanted to make their voice heard in this matter, and we tried to reflect their demands in the document. This judicial reform document is not only that of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), but also that of the whole people."
Prosecutors and judges handled around nine million files this year. Gül mentioned that wrong decisions and deficiency could have taken place in these files, yet the main target is to eliminate all of them. Noting that Turkey is a state of law, Gül reminded that objections could be carried to higher courts by application. "There are two parties in a court, one leaves dissatisfied. An alternative solution is an atmosphere where both are satisfied is created," Gül said.
On May 30, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced new judicial reform to strengthen the independent, objective, accountable and transparent features of the judiciary. The judicial reform strategy consists of two basic perspectives, nine targets, 63 objectives and 256 activities. The nine targets are protection and improvement of rights and freedoms, improvements of judicial independence, objectivity and transparency, improving both the quality and quantity of human resources, increasing performance and productivity, enabling the right of defense to be used effectively, making justice more approachable, increasing the effectiveness of the penalty justice system, simplifying civil justice and administrative procedure and lastly, popularizing alternative mediating methods. Prepared by the Justice Ministry for the period of 2019-2023, the reform strategy envisions a "trust ensuring, approachable justice system."