Turkey’s justice minister targets bar associations, accuses them of acting like opposition party

Turkey’s Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç has accused bar associations of acting like an opposition party for “involving in different ideological activities.” Tunç claimed the associations were focusing on different things “rather than the problems of the legal profession.”

Duvar English

Turkey’s Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç on April 4 targeted the bar associations, accusing them of acting like an opposition party.

Tunç said some bar associations “did not perform very well in the past,” while speaking at the “Symposium on Lawyer Vision in a Changing World” of the Ankara Bar Association No. 2 held at the Lawyers' Day.

“They focused on different things rather than the problems of the legal profession. In particular, they have been and continue to be involved in a number of different ideological activities, almost like an opposition party, even beyond an opposition party,” he claimed.

“We want them to focus on the legal profession. We want them to contribute to the professional work of our colleagues. In terms of the development of the profession, they should be in good relations with the executive and the legislature so that they can fulfill their duties,” he further added.

Tunç previously claimed that the ECHR rulings on imprisoned Osman Kavala and Selahattin Demirtaş had “political concerns.”

The majority of bar associations in Turkey have been objecting to the government’s practices violating the law and demanding judicial independence in the country.

Turkish parliament passed a law in 2020 on changing the structure of bar associations, a move that lawyers said further undermined judicial independence in the country. 

The law says that in provinces with over 5,000 lawyers, any group of at least 2,000 lawyers can set up their own bar association. After the move, a group of pro-government lawyers established their own bar associations in Istanbul and Ankara.