The Turkish parliament's Justice Commission passed a controversial bill early on July 6 that would allow decentralization of bar associations amid intense criticism.
The bill was approved in the commission following extensive hours of talks and is set to be put to vote in parliament.
The rift between the bars and the government began after the Ankara Bar Association slammed Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) for its remarks targeting LGBT individuals on Islamic grounds. The bar released a statement against the homophobic remarks, which was followed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calling for a change in their election system.
Eighty bar associations have been protesting the bill submitted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for attempting to silence defense and increase the effect of the government in bars.
The bar associations weren't allowed in the commission talks that began on July 2, prompting criticism from the opposition.Parliamentary commission declines lawyers' demand to take part in discussions on bar associations bill
No changes were made in the bill that's backed by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) before it was approved.
The draft bill is set to be voted in parliament on July 9 and the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) is planning to take it to the Constitutional Court for annulment if the articles on decentralizing bars are approved.
The bill aims to decentralize the bar associations by permitting the establishment of alternative associations in Istanbul, Ankara, and İzmir, which represent nearly half of all lawyers in the country.
The bill also seeks to change the election system of the executive board of the Turkey Bar Associations in a way to break the power of three biggest associations so that provincial organizations would have more of a say in the lawyers’ agenda.Ankara police use tear gas, shields against lawyers protesting decentralization of bar associations
The bill would allow bar associations that have more than 5,000 members to split into other bar associations as long as they have at least 2,000 lawyers.
Each bar association in the provinces will be represented by three delegates and a president in the General Assembly of Union of Turkish Bar Associations if the bill passes.
The bar associations on June 19 launched a Defense March to the capital Ankara to protest the government's proposed changes.
They were prevented from entering Ankara by police and were allowed to do so after 27 hours.
They were then prevented from holding rallies and marches in Ankara before the commission began discussing the bill, as the governor's office cited "coronavirus measures."
The bar heads launched a sit-in near parliament to protest the move with opposition lawmakers visiting them frequently to voice support.
The bars are expected to continue their protests in their own provinces.
During the talks, opposition deputies slammed the AKP and MHP for not consulting bar heads on the issue.Bar heads launch sit-in after police prevent them from entering Ankara to end their Defense March