Turkey's Parliament on Wednesday approved a second judicial package, prepared as part of its judicial reform strategy, to introduce new regulations for legal cases.
The package will bring various new regulations for legal cases. One of the changes will accommodate secret trials if individuals related to a case have circumstances that necessitate special protection. This change was considered a necessary step to ensure that children are shielded from the negative effects of judicial processes, like divorce and custody disputes.
Another change was the addition of "having mediated on a similar case previously," as a reason for judges to refuse cases. Besides, the judges will be able to encourage the related parties to apply for mediation rather than coming to court.
The package also allows individuals to attend a trial remotely. For illiterate individuals, on the other hand, the package states that for their seal to be valid on official documents, it must be certified by a notary.
It also enables the plaintiff to file a suit with a certain amount of money in remedial action cases in which the outcome is ambiguous. This regulation aims to prevent the plaintiff from incurring the costs of timeouts and interest charges that can regularly arise in such cases.
Lastly, this package will establish commercial courts in all provinces of the country.
One of the aims of the package is to shorten the duration of the trials that may tend to last longer than needed.
In October 2019, Parliament passed the first package in a set of landmark judicial reforms.
The reform package contained a host of changes, including laws covering freedom of expression, passports and the protection of children.
The judicial reforms, which senior lawmakers have said will make justice "trust-ensuring, accessible," look to contribute to the country's judicial system by raising standards regarding individual rights, liberties and democracy.
The reforms are designed to "strengthen trust in the judiciary (and) have an important place in our efforts to propel our country into a brighter future," President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had said in a statement in September 2019.
The process started on May 30, 2019, when Erdoğan announced a new judicial reform to strengthen the judiciary's independence, objectivity, accountability and transparency.
The judicial reform strategy consists of two basic perspectives, nine targets, 63 objectives and 256 activities.
The nine targets are: protecting and improving rights and freedoms, improving 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 penal justice system, simplifying civil justice and administrative procedures, and lastly, popularizing alternative mediation methods.