Turkish Supreme Court says accusations of political influence are unjust

Turkey's Supreme Court said on Saturday accusations against the body was unjust after various provincial bar associations declined the invitation to attend a ceremony marking the beginning of the judicial year over ethical concerns, opposition daily Cumhuriyet reported.

41 provincial bar association, including those in Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir, announced that they had declined the invitation to attend the event which will be held in at the Turkish Presidency’s Congress and Culture Centre in Ankara despite provincial bar associations’ calls for a boycott.

In a statement on Friday, the Istanbul Bar Association said it could not accept a choice of venue that conflicted both with the constitution’s 104th article, which deals with the president’s duties in relation to the judiciary, but also with ethical standards outlined in a legal reform package unveiled in May.

The Ankara Bar Association on Saturday said in a written statement that attending an event for the new judicial year at the presidential venue would mean reproducing the political pressure over the judiciary. 

"Many accusations that began with allegations that the Supreme Court was under the political influence were incompatible with any measure of mercy or justice, and accepted with sorrow," the Supreme Court said in a statement.

Turkey’s new executive presidential system, which entered into force after presidential and parliamentary elections last year, has placed vast powers in the hands of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, among them the right to appoint members of the powerful Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK). The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic said last month that constitutional changes regarding the HSK clearly contradicted with Council of Europe standards.