What is the project about?
The Project targets developing and implementing strategies in the Court of Cassation (CoC), the implementing partner of the Project, for “disseminating code of ethics”, “strengthening transparency” and “increasing trust in the judiciary” in line with universal values, good practices and lessons learned in other countries. The Project will thereby address the awareness and capacity development needs of the CoC and the Turkish judiciary for enhanced transparency, public trust and ethics.
What is the Situation?
It is globally recognized that there are strong links between establishing democratic governance, securing human rights and access to justice for all. This recognition has led to the acceleration of justice reforms worldwide as one of the essential prerequisites of sustainable human development. In line with this perspective, for a global organization founded on the principles of peace, freedom, human rights and rule of law, access to justice for all is a vital part of the UNDP’s mandate to strengthen democratic governance and reduce poverty. Within the broader context of justice sector reform, UNDP’s specific niche lies in supporting justice and related systems so that they work for all, particularly for the disadvantaged.
In the context of Turkey, judicial reform is one of the highest priority issues and as a candidate country for the EU accession, in recent years the Government of Turkey (GoT) has undertaken comprehensive constitutional and legal amendments. Turkey’s strong commitment to judicial reforms is expressed in various national policy framework documents and these efforts mostly take the form of comprehensive legal and constitutional arrangements. However, there has been some challenges for its full-fledged formulation and implementation mainly due to the lack of consensus oriented policy making, limited institutional capacities and public awareness.
UNDP Turkey, in view of its global experience and technical expertise, has been associated with the judicial reform process in Turkey through a series of projects on access to justice and strengthening the rule of law. The strong partnership between the UNDP and the Court of Cassation in Turkey started in late 2009 with the aim of improving the institutional and administrative capacity of the high courts in Turkey to conform to the international standards. Since then, two comprehensive Programs have been implemented, the Project at hand is grounded on the results achieved and a framework was developed for the long term partnership of the UNDP and Court of Cassation of Turkey. The results of the UNDP and Court of Cassation joint Project for “Support to the Institutional Administration of the Presidency of the Court of Cassation in line with the International Standards” have identified a list of priority areas for programming, as given below:
- Contributing to the judicial reform processes around the globe and also in Turkey through the continuation of knowledge and experience sharing platforms on the functioning of high courts
- Increasing the public confidence in the judicial proceedings through transparency and ethics
- Taking necessary measures for the adoption and effective implementation of code of ethics among the court members, the rapporteur judges, public prosecutors and personnel.
The Project at hand therefore builds on these three identified areas of need and aims to enhance the level of public confidence on the judicial activities through strengthening the measures for transparency and adoption of code of ethics. The Project also will benefit continuously from the extended expertise and experience of the UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, Council of Europe, European Commission and UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers in the field of judicial reform during the implementation period.
What is UNDP’S mission?
The Project at hand is built on the results of the joint initiatives of the UNDP Turkey and the Court of Cassation since 2010. Mainly the following results have been achieved in the scope of the Initiation Plan and Project for Support to the Institutional Administration of the Presidency of the Court of Cassation in line with the International Standards:
The Report on the Comparative Analysis on the Functioning of High Courts which addressed fundamental issues concerning the functioning of high courts including but not limited to quality, education, diversity, judicial powers, transparency and structural safeguards was developed and provided policy options for a possible restructuring of high courts in Turkey. 25 country experiences in referred fields are reviewed in comparison with Turkey through the Survey study and the Strategic Plan of the Court of Cassation as well as the results of structured interviews with the relevant justice actors and stakeholders were taken into consideration in forming the policy options. Two options have been considered in the referred report. One is to leave unchanged the current system in which the Turkish judiciary is divided into four branches, namely, the constitutional judiciary, the general judiciary, the administrative judiciary and the military judiciary. The other is to change the structure of the judiciary to facilitate integration between the different branches.
Complementing the initial findings of the Comparative Analysis on the Functioning of High Courts, the International Summit of the High Courts, which was co-organized by the Court of Cassation and UNDP Turkey was conducted on 1-3 November 2010 in order to share knowledge and experiences among the high courts around the world. The Summit hosted the participation of chief justices of 19 countries as well as high level representatives of the international community such as the Special Rapporteur of the UN Secretary General on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, the European Commission for Efficiency of the Justice (CEPEJ), the Consultative Council of European Prosecutors (CCEJ) and the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCEJ). As a result of the Summit, guiding principles for reforms, restructuring and improvement of functioning of the judicial system was drafted to contribute to the judicial reform process of Turkey.
Code of judicial conduct for judges, prosecutors and court personnel based on the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, its Commentary and its Implementation Measures was developed by a group of experts and in close consultation with the ad-hoc ethics committee established by the Court of Cassation. The efforts for its adoption and capacity development of the staff in this regards will be taken by the Project at hand.
The capacity needs and gaps of the current work processes in the Court of Cassation and in selected courts of first instance were assessed in order to obtain accurate and scientific data and in light thereof, submit recommendations for expediting the processes for timely dispensation of justice. The results of the assessment were compiled in a Report and the Court of Cassation referred to its recommendations in developing its standard operational procedures.
Second International Summit of High Courts was organized with the theme of judicial transparency in 2013. 20 countries in Asia Pacific Region as well as international community representatives participated to the Summit and as a result “Istanbul Principles on Transparency on Judicial Processes” was approved by 20 Chief Justices who participated to the Summit. The set of principles are first of its kind that was developed on transparency and thereby referred by Special Representative of UN Secretary General on Independence of Judges and Lawyers. The Project at hand will address its adoption at the national as well as international level by different high courts.
Below are the principles set forth in İstanbul Declaration:
Principle 1 - Judicial proceedings must, as a general rule, be conducted in public.
Principle 2 - The judicial system should ensure easy access to court premises and to information.
Principle 3 - The judiciary should facilitate access to the judicial system.
Principle 4 - The judiciary should provide court-users with translation and interpretation facilities, free of charge.
Principle 5 - The judiciary should ensure transparency in the assignment of cases.
Principle 6 - The judiciary should ensure transparency in the delivery of justice.
Principle 7 - The judiciary should have supervisory powers over executive detention.
Principle 8 - The judiciary should ensure that judicial decisions of the superior/appellate courts are regularly published.
Principle 9 - The judiciary should promote programmes to orientate students on the judicial process.
Principle 10 - The judiciary should initiate and/or support outreach programmes designed to educate the public on the role of the justice system.
Principle 11 - The judiciary should afford access and appropriate assistance to the media to enable it to perform its legitimate function of informing the public about judicial proceedings, including decisions.
Principle 12 - The judiciary should assess public satisfaction with the delivery of justice, and thereby seek to promote the quality of justice.
Principle 13 - There should be transparency in the appointment process of judges.
Principle 14 - The judiciary should respond to complaints of unethical conduct of judges in a transparent manner.
Principle 15 - There should be transparency in the disciplinary process of judges
How are we doing this?
Well-functioning judicial system is one of the fundamental conditions for the rule of law. Even the notions such as democracy and human rights can realize its main function only through a well-functioning judicial system. In the face of the requirement of addressing solution offers regarding increasing efficiency and effectiveness of judiciary with a holistic view, it is a must to address the needs and take action for “developing transparency”, “disseminating ethical principles” and “increasing trust in the judiciary” in addition to other structural reforms. Otherwise, there is a risk for the other studies conducted in the scope of judicial reforms not to attain the desired results. Thus, this Project is an integral part and original content of the values to be enhanced within the Court of Cassation, reflections of these values in society and other studies conducted in the scope of judicial reform process.
Specific objectives of the Project at hand are as follows:
1. Developing and implementing strategies in the Court of Cassation for “disseminating code of ethics”, “strengthening transparency” and “increasing trust in the judiciary” in line with universal values, good practices and lessons learned in other countries,
2. Increasing trust on materialisation and implementation of code of ethics for members, rapporteur judges, prosecutors and the personnel of the Court of Cassation, providing training and establishing the infrastructure of secondary legislation,
3. Conducting studies to support “increasing trust in the Court of Cassation” in a way to complement the two objectives explained above.
In the Court of Cassation, in line with the international principles, good practice examples in other countries and their experiences, capacity needs at institutional and individual level will be defined in order to ensure of “strengthening transparency”, “disseminating ethical principles” and “increasing trust in the Court of Cassation”. Moreover, the Project will carry out activities which will strengthen communication and coordination with other judicial institutions and public in a way to support the initiatives of the Court of Cassation in the field of transparency.
How will Turkey benefit?
In the context of Turkey, judicial reform is one of the highest priority issues. With the 10th Development Plan (2014-2018) General Board of the Turkish Grand National Assembly reiterated the need for continuum of the reforms in the judiciary. The Project at hand, addresses the current needs for enhancing transparency, ethics and thereby public trust in the high judiciary in line with the international norms and standards. In this context, outcomes of the Project are in coherence with the anticipated goals of both the 10th Development Plan and the Judicial Reform Strategy and Action Plan, which was developed in 2009. In addition, the recognition of the Istanbul Declaration on Transparency in the Judicial Process at national and international level will enable Turkey to adopt an inclusive and sustainable approach on transparency.