Leslie Esbrook

Hoşgeldin! (Welcome) and Goodbye - Field Research on Turkish Judicial Reform

This project looks at the ability of the judicial branch to provide small-scale change in the short term to Turkey’s democratic prospects despite executive resistance to sustained judicial independence and impartiality. It is posited that there have been three phases to the recent history of judicial politics following the Justice and Development Party’s rise to power in 2002: 1) exponential progress; 2) constitutionalism; and 3) executive takeover. The research tries to develop whether there are any areas in which the judiciary of Turkey could take reforms into its own hands despite executive abandonment of judicial reform as a policy priority. It particularly looks at the availability and utility of partnerships with foreign non-governmental organizations like the Council of Europe or the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative, the use of arbitration and mediation, and the use of the individual application to Turkey’s Constitutional Court, first made available in September 2012. Finally, the research discusses the role of the Turkish Justice Academy, Turkey’s administrative center for training judges, based on several first hand interviews with officials at the Academy.