Existence of multiple courthouses in Ankara hinders judicial processes

The existence of multiple courthouses in Ankara is a hindrance during judicial processes, and an eighth building in the city center has been erected in the capital. Meanwhile, the Justice Ministry has failed to take action on a promised central location.

Serkan Alan / DUVAR

The existence of multiple courthouses in Ankara hinders judicial proceedings, and the erection of another building has brought the number of courthouses in the city center up to eight.

The Justice Ministry said in October 2020 that a singular courthouse would be built to unite the different facilities in Ankara, but hasn't taken any concrete action to this end, local attorneys said. 

The existence of multiple courthouses prevents attorneys from conducting their jobs properly, they've reported, adding that some of them even miss hearings because they're stuck in line waiting for elevators. 

Opened in 1989, the "Ankara Justice Palace" now falls short of the city's needs, Ankara Bar Association chair Erinç Sağkan said, adding that the "split, fragmented" courthouse structure prevents the public's access to justice. 

Ankara Bar Association Chair Erinç Sağkan

"This situation forces attorneys to prioritize and choose between their cases. It shouldn't be so hard to build a single courthouse in the capital," Sağkan said. 

Meanwhile, the existence of multiple courthouses increases costs for the Justice Ministry, Sağkan said, noting that the public's loss is also financial as a result of the disorganization. 

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Murat Emir had reported that four of the additional courthouses cost the ministry monthly 1,055,000 Turkish Liras. 

The Justice Ministry acquired the lot where the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) stood, but hasn't made any effort toward the construction of a central courthouse, the bar chairman added. 

"This just shows you what the current government thinks of lawyers. The fact that the proper physical conditions aren't provided for an attorney to defend the public's rights shows you," Sağkan said. 

The Justice Ministry is not transparent about the splitting of courthouses and fails to inform lawyers adequately, Nazlı Didem Moğulkoç from Lawyers' Rights Group Ankara said. 

Nazlı Didem Moğulkoç from Lawyers' Rights Group Ankara

"You could show up to the courthouse and find that the courtroom isn't even there anymore," Moğulkoç said. "One time I got a call on my way to a hearing, and the opposing side's attorney was in panic because they hadn't been informed that the courtroom had been moved. We don't have to go through this anxiety and stress."

Labor courts in Ankara are located in a building that was designed as a hotel, Moğulkoç noted, adding that she's missed hearings waiting for elevators at this location. 

"There are fire escapes next to the elevators, and sometimes, all the attorneys will be piled up here like a herd of ants because we can't get on the elevators," the attorney said. 

Lawyers also have to spend excessive amounts of money for transportation between the different buildings where they have hearings, Moğulkoç noted, adding that their daily costs add up to 200 Turkish Liras at times. 

"This is a problem for the public as well because we have to ramp up prices to include your losses for both time and money transporting between locations," the attorney said.  

A candidate in the upcoming elections for the Ankara Bar Association chair, Moğulkoç plans on organizing regular protests outside the Justice Ministry urging them to build a central courthouse.