Turkey’s latest judicial crisis, which saw the country’s top courts clash over a jailed opposition MP, represents an unprecedented institutional crisis, the European Parliament’s Turkey Rapporteur Nacho Sanchez Amor said on Thursday.
In a strongly worded statement, Amor expressed his disbelief at the Court of Cassation’s refusal to abide by a ruling by the Constitutional Court (AYM) and its decision to take legal action against AYM members. He described the situation as “surreal”.
The crux of the matter lies in the prolonged detention of Can Atalay, a member of the Turkish Workers’ Party (TİP). The AYM recently ruled that Atalay’s continued imprisonment is a violation of the constitution, prompting the release of the MP. However, the Court of Cassation’s countermove to file criminal complaints against the AYM members has thrown the entire legal and political landscape into disarray.
According to the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, the rulings of the AYM are final, and the legislative, executive and administrative branches are obliged to comply with the Court’s rulings without modification or delay.
Amor emphasised that the move by the Court of Cassation only validated the long-standing concerns expressed by the Council of Europe and the European Union regarding the independence and integrity of the Turkish judiciary.
The clash between two of the country’s highest courts not only highlights a serious divide within the legal system but also raises questions about the adherence to democratic principles and the rule of law.