Comparative law and justice/Turkey

Flag of Turkey.
Flag of Turkey.

Basic Information


Turkey is a country located Southeast of Europe and Southwest of Asia. Turkey borders the Black Sea and is between Bulgaria and Georgia. Turkey also borders the Aegean Sea and Mediterranean Sea, between Syria and Greece. Its capital is Ankara. Turkey has and area of 783,562 sq km, with 769,632 sq km donated to land and 13,930 sq km of ocean. The climate is temperate with hot, dry summers and mild winters. Turkeys population is over 85 million, with a growth.

Turkey's natural resources consist of coal, iron ore, copper, chromium, antimony, mercury, gold, emery, feldspar, limestone, marble, pyrites (sulfur), clay, arable land, and hydro power. Turkey's produces goods such as tobacco, cotton, grain olives, sugar beets, hazel nuts, pulse, citrus, and livestock. The language spoken in Turkey is officially Turkish, however there are other nationalities that exist and speak other languages other then Turkish. These nationalities include Kurdish (ranging in 18%) and others ranging in 7-12%. Turkey's composition includes 8.8% donated to agriculture, industry (25.7%), and services (65.5%). Currently, Turkey's unemployment rate is 12.4% as of 2010, in 2009 it was 14.1%.[1]

Brief History


Modern Turkey was first founded in 1923, after Mustafa Kemal Atatürk defeated former emperor Ottoman. In 1950 his rule lead to the election of the opposing democrat party, which led to a peaceful transfer of power. Since then, Turkey had been living in peace with its new government, until it began to fracture . This was due to instability and intermittent military coups. Power however was restored and returned to the people. Also in 1945 Turkey joined the UN and in 1954 Turkey became a member of NATO.

In 1974 Turkey intervened in Cypress to prevent Greek hostile forces from taking over and inhabiting the island. As a result Cypress has been a patron to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is only recognized by Turkey. In 1984, the Kurdistan Workers Party (or now Peoples Congress or Kurdistan, PKK, or Kongra-Gel KGK) began a separatists insurgency which claimed 30,000 lives and gained the militaries attention since 1999. In 1999, the leader of the insurgency was kidnapped by the Turkish military and the KGK withdrew to Nothern Iraq. This did not mark the end of this ordeal though because in 2004 KGK ended its cease fire agreement and thus attacks on KGK increased. [2]

Economic Development, Health, and Education


Economic Development: Industry is one of Turkey's most successful sectors, in fact the country is driven by industry. Even though agriculture holds 30% of Turkey's employment, industry is still the most popular business in the country. Turkey earns a GPD exchange rate of $729.1 billion. Turkey also earns the following:

GPD Purchasing power: 958.3 billion (2010) compared to 893.1 billion (2009) GPD Growth rate: 7.3% (2010), compared to -4.7 (2009) GPD Per Capita: $12,300 (2010) compared to 11,600 (2009) Composition by sector: Agriculture: 8.8%, Industry: 25.7%, and services: 65.5% Labor force by occupation: Agriculture: 29.5%, Industry: 24.7%,and Services: 45.8%

Turkey's Unemployment rate ranks in 12.4% in 2010, which is an improvement from 2009 when the employment rate was 14.1%. The population below the poverty line is 17.11%

Health: Turkey suffers from air pollution in urban areas. Turkey also suffers from chemical spills in the water and detergents leading to water pollution and poisoning. There are also oil spills in the Black Sea, which add to the water pollution. Turkey, overall does not have much of a healthy environment in certain areas. Surprisingly, Turkey's life expectancy at birth for the total population is 72.23 years (70.37 years for males and 74.19 years females). The infant mortality rates for the entire population are 24.84 deaths/1000 population (25.89 for males and 23.73 for females). Turkey is known to have citizen's that are not living with AID's or any citizen that have died from AID's.

Education: Turkey boasts that at age 15 and over can read and write. The total population that is educated ranks at 87.4% with males ranking highest at 95.3% and females ranking at 79.6%. The total school life expectancy in Turkey is 12 years, very similar to our American system. In Turkey, mens' school life expectancy is 12 years, where as females life expectancy is 11 years. In Turkey 2.9% of its GPD is spent on an education. [3]



Turkey's governance operates as a republican parliamentary democracy. Turkey posses a government system very similar to that of the United States. Turkey has a legislative branch, which is known as the Grand National Assembly of Turkey which seats 550 members. Turkey also posses a Judicial Branch which consists of the Constitutional Court, the High Court of Appeals (Yargitay), Council of State (Danistay), Court of Accounts (Sayistay), Military High Court of Appeals, and Military High Administrative Court. Turkey also has an executive branch, with Recep Tayyip Erdogan as President, and Prime Minister is Ahmet Davutoglu.[4]



Turkey's older election system is also somewhat similar to the United States. In Turkey you must be 18 years of age or older to vote, you can also form political parties as well but they must have a headquarters in the capital of the country of Ankara. To win a seat in parliament you must receive 10 percent of the vote from the entire country. The president also serves a seven year term (rather then a two year term in the U.S.). The elections are held in every province of Turkey and are reported and recorded publicly. The voting process is also supervised by a judicial administration.

The elections in Turkey have changed since 2007. In modern-day Turkey the president is elected by popular vote rather than by consultation of parliament.The president also now serves a five year term and is permitted to run for re-election.[5]

Judicial Review


Turkey's highest source of law is its Constitution because of the countries belief in the constitution as a supreme legal power. The Constitution has been maintained since 1826 and was maintained in the 1923, 1961, and 1982 as well. In the 1982 constitution, Turkey's principals and judicial review were both maintained. Turkey's Judicial Review states that the Constitutional Courts are authorized to review laws by their form, but are not authorized to review unconstitutional laws in regard to their form. A law that is in consideration for review is left to the majority ballot. Review of the form of a law may be overseen by the President or one-fifth the vote of the Turkish Grand Assembly. defects in Annulment may not be made unless within ten days of which the bill was ratified. Within Turkey's judicial review, it also mentions judicial immunity. Judicial Immunity is only granted in article 174 of the constitution in order to protect secular laws of the constitution. [6]

Turkey has three types of courts: military, judicial and administrative, with each consisting of an Appellate Court and a First Instance Court. The largest part of Turkey's judicial system are the judicial courts' which consist of two courts: Court of Appeals and the Constitutional Court. These courts' usually deal with criminal and civil cases. Constitutional courts review constitutionality of the legislation and the decrees of Turkey, where as the Appellate Court's review civil and criminal decisions from lower courts.11 members are elected from lower courts' as well as High Council of judges and public prosecutors.

The Administrative Courts consist of Council of the state, appellate courts, and various courts of first instance. The president elects 25 percent of the Council of State judges, whereas the other appointees are elected by the Public Prosecutors. Finally the Supreme Military Administrative Courts consists of the Appellate State Security Court and the Military Court of Appeals. These court's have jurisdiction over all military personnel and civilians accused of terrorism.[7] Turkey's legal system follows the inquisitorial model, which is the model that suggests that the trial acts as the investigation to a discrepancy or crime, lawyers have a passive role, professional and non-professional judges make the decisions, and the goal is to uncover the truth.[8] This is so because Turkey is split into many different legal divisions that mostly involve the judges decision as well as other non professional judges decisions, rather then him/her acting as a referee. For example, the Court of Jurisdictional Conflict hears cases that involve verdicts of the Administrative, Justice, or Military. This court consists of different members, both professional and non-professional, from High Council of State, Supreme Military Court of Appeals, Court of Appeals, and the Military Administrative Court of Appeals.[9] Being that Turkey's legal system is divided into many different sections, it is quite difficult to understand whether or not they follow the Adversarial model or the inquisitorial model of justice.

Courts and Criminal Law


Turkey's criminal law operates as follows. If someone commits a crime, but fails to do so due to circumstances beyond his/her control then they are still guilty of committing a criminal offense. If an individual abandons the commission of a crime, what ever part of the crime that was ceased and abandon is excused and therefore not punishable. However, the accomplished half of said crime will be punished. As far as participation in a crime is concerned anyone who participates in a crime in Turkey is also subject to legal consequences as much as the original offender. When an offender uses another person in the commission of a crime then that person is still responsible for the crime, however the person that used another for the crime, his/her punishment is increased to one-half. Even if an individual is tricked into helping another commit a crime, Turkey has little toleration for crime and the participant is still held responsible. For information on the courts see Judicial Review above. [10]

Turkey has three types of courts: military, judicial, and administrative, each consisting of an Appellate Court and a First Instance Court. The largest part of Turkey's judicial systems are the judicial courts which consist of two courts: Court of Appeals and the Constitutional Court. These courts usually deal with criminal and civil cases. Constitutional courts review constitutionality of the legislation and the decrees of Turkey, where as the Appellate Courts review civil and criminal decisions from lower courts. 11 members are elected from lower courts as well as High Council of judges and public prosecutors.

The Administrative Courts consist of Council of the state, appellate courts, and various courts of first instance. The president elects 25 percent of the Council of State judges, whereas the other appointees are elected by the Public Prosecutors. Finally the Supreme Military Administrative Courts consist of the appellate State Security Court and the Military Court of Appeals. These courts have jurisdiction over all military personnel and civilians accused of terrorism.[11]

The Turkish courts system consists of the minister of justice, high council of judges, and public prosecutors. The high council of judges select the lower court judges and oversees the career of judges and prosecutors, such as transfers, appointment, promotion, ect. They also have the power to removes judges and prosecutors from office, however judges are protected by the constitution against arbitrary removals of judges without due cause. The judges render decisions after the establishing the facts of a case derived from the evidence given to them. [12]. A judges role in a court case is to administer a ruling based on the law, Constitution,and personal convictions regarding the law.[13] In the Turkish constitution the defendant of a court case has the right to a public trial and it is the responsibility of the bar association in Turkey to provide indigent defendants with free counsel. There is no jury system in Turkey because everything is decided by a panel of judges based on the evidence presented by lawyers and the prosecutors. [14] To become a lawyer in Turkey a law degree is required one must have a law degree and have at least accomplished one year of internship. During the internship the trainee is trained for six months in the court room and another six months in the legal office. Once one has completed their internship they are entered into the bar association in the community of their choice. Passing the bar test is not required in Turkey, compared to the U.S. where it is required. The legal term for a lawyer is "avukat".[15]

Turkey's lawsuits and punitive damage cases are resolved in the Turkish civil courts. They are dealt with in four phases. The first phase involves submitting a claim to a competent court which must set forth the following elements. The address and name of the opposing party, subject matter of the claim, material facts and evidence, and the relief sought. after the claim is submitted against the defendant then the defendant must submit his/her statement of defense to the court. The second phase involves the "investigation phase" in which the court investigates the parties consistencies with the material facts. If the court decides that all required evidence is in the case file and there are no outstanding issues with the dispute items then the case is considered finalized. The second phase is the most time consuming. The third phase involves the hearing and rendering of the verdict. The court does allow the parties to make additional pleadings in which they hold a separate hearing. In the final hearing the judge will state that the issue has been discussed and that the evidence has been Thoroughly collected, allowing the court to render the verdict. The fourth and final phase includes appealing to a higher court against the lower courts decision if necessary.[16] In terms of guilt and/or innocence, there is no jury system in Turkey, only a judge decides your fate. Therefore, presumption of guilt and innocence is left in the hands of the judge and what he believes happened and is fair in his eyes. This was emphasized in a court case involving two Turkish christians, Hakan Tatsan and Turan Topal, who slandered Islam and Turkishness, while expressing there faith in three young men from Silivri. In the judges ending quote he stated the " In other countries a judge or judges decide your guilt or innocence. In Turkey, the courts have no jury system. Judges alone decide your fate if you are accused".[17] The charges of blasphemy were dropped on the two men because the judge stated that Turkey did not posses laws involving blasphemy and expression. [18]



Punishment in Turkey operates within three categories strict imprisonment, ordinary imprisonment, and heavy fines. Under the amended Criminal Code of 1926 certain crimes and premeditated murder are punished with the death penalty. Executions in Turkey were quite common with 1,000 executions occurring in 1986 if there were blanket commutations. The death sentence and executions ended in 1991 however, with the passage of the Anti-Terror Law of 1991. Within the Prisons strict labor is enforced and those who are recidivists are sentenced to solitary confinement. A prison sentence in Turkey usually spans to twenty years including labor. In more serious cases voting rights, payment and restitution, disqualification of holding a public office, and professional practices in a trade also resulted as well. The death penalty in Turkey was abolished for all crimes in 2004, and replaced with life imprisonment. The imprisonment rate in Turkey is 92 per 100,000 people boasting a share prison capacity filled of 91.1%. Turkey also boasts having 64,051 prisoners, with 3.7% female prisoners and 1.7% foreigner prisoners.[19] Juvenile system in Turkey is a topic of great concern. This is so because children are tried in criminal courts under the Anti-terror laws and they are tried as adults. Also most children tried in Turkey are of Kurdish decent and face up to 24 years in Prison just for protesting and throwing stones at security officials. Many articles of Turkey's constitution (such as, articles 9 and 13) allow Turkey to try juveniles as adults, however the state is looking out for the best interest of the children when these laws are enforced. Thus, Turkey's government is attempting to amend articles 9 and 13 as a democratic initiative to solve the Kurdish question. These laws are still under discussion in parliament but many child advocate groups such as the Justice for Children Initiative (JCI) group think these laws will fail due to TCK implications in the constitution. [20] Turkeys justifications for punishment seem as though they are following the retrobutionist model (or eye for an eye model). This is so because many of their punishments seem to have one goal set in mind, "revenge" or paying restitution to the victim party.


Turkey's legal personnel consist of the Gendarmeire. The Gendarmerie maintains order within the boundaries of Turkey and in municipal areas as well. The total number of gendarmes in Turkey usually range from 70,000 active units to 50,000 reserves. they are arranged into thirteen regional commands that enforce seventy-six provinces in Turkey each with a commander and a colonel or lieutenant colonel that oversee government matters. The Gendamerie function as Turkey's national police. They oversee such issues as hunting and fishing laws, as well as preventing forest fires and patrolling borders. The Judicial tasks of the gendarmes is guarding prisons, preparing for trials, and assisting in investigation. The military duties of the gendarmes involve serving as adjuncts in the army in case of an emergency, enforcing conscription, apprehending military deserters, and working in military courts.

Officers of the Gendamerie are chosen from cadets whom have served at least two years in military services. After they are chosen they attend an infantry school program for six months and a commando school for four months. the NCO's are then chosen by members of the Gendamerie who have served at least one year as a gendarme and the selected spend five months in training at the Gendamerie School of Command. Turkey also has its own intellegents agency, Milli Istihbarat Teskilati (MIT). Its primary responsibility is to gather intelligence via electronic eavesdropping and overseeing military attaches' as well as exchange intelligence with foreign intelligence services. The National Intelligence Coordination Committee helps MIT in gathering military and civil intelligence. MIT also consist of members of the National Security Council. MIT have no police powers and can only gather intellegents and counter intelligence against communist and separatist countries like Kurdish and Armenian countries. The MIT chief's duty is to report to government. [21]

Law Enforcement


According to Reichel (2008), there are 6 different models of policing. There is the single/centralized model in which one police force enforces a single set of laws. Next there is the single/decentralized model of policing in which a single police force enforces the laws of different government sections (like in Japan) such as, judges, prosecutors, and magistrates. Third is the Centralized Multiple Coordinated system in which multiple police forces enforce laws of a central government. Fourth is the Decentralized Multiple Coordinated model, in which multiple police forces enforces laws from different sections of government. fifth is the Centralized Multiple Uncoordinated model, in which multiple police forces enforce the laws of one government. Finaly, there is the Decntralized Multiple Uncoordinated model, in which Separate police forces enforce the laws of different government sections.[22] Turkey's law enforcement consists of a single decentralized police force. A single decenteralized police force is the idea of a single police force thatenforces multiple laws from different sections of government. [23] Turkey's only known police force is the Gendarmerie that oversee such issue as fishing laws to overseeing military court trials. Turkey also follows the police model of martial law in which the police and the military are synonymous or they both work equally and coincide with each other.[24] The Turkish Armed forces play a huge role in politics, they are seen as the guardians of Turkey's secular state. This is so because the military warned the Turkish government of the pro-Islamic appointments, despite the negotiations of the EU accession in October of 2005. [25] The police are also close to law enforcement because all cadets being trained for the Gendamerie are first put through military training in order to be trained as a gendarme. Turkey ranks 27 out of 30 in countries that have citizens that responded to corruption. 1,755 citizens that have responded to corruption in Turkey have a 0.15 percent out of 95% confidence level. [26]

Crime Rates and Public Opinion


The total crime rate in Turkey is 286,482 ranking 32 out of 82 in countries with high crime rates (the U.S. being the highest with 11,877,281 crimes reported). One of Turkey's biggest crime commodities is drug trafficking (most of it being heroin trade). Turkey in fact acts as a direct transit route for Southwestern Asia's heroine trade between Europe and small amounts in the U.S. Most of Turkey's drug rackets operate in Istanbul. It is reported that Istanbul does have laboratories that convert morphine chemical bases into heroin that exists in small parts of both Turkey and Istanbul. Turkey also holds control over opium poppy cultivation and output of poppy straw concentrate. It is also reported that Turkey has some control in money laundering operations for their drug trades or other illegal activities.

Other crimes occur in Turkey as well. Robbery for example, there have been 1,633 robberies and 1,260 rapes in Turkey ranking it 24 of 50 in rapes across the globe. Robberies ran 47 of 47 in Turkey. Manslaughter in Turkey ranks 5th out 42 with 2,175 manslaughters, compared to other countries with manslaughter (Mexico being the highest). Assaults range in 53,485 (12th of 49) and 14,954 car thefts (24th of 46). In Turkey there are 2,060,060 adults prosecuted and 306,445 adults acquitted for crimes. Drug offenses also occur in 4.6 of 100,000 people.[27]

The publics opinion of crime in Turkey stems form the media. According to the article "The Effect of the Media on Citizens Fear of Crime", Erhan Erdonmez conducted a study on crime in Turkey and what factors contribute to crime in Turkey. Erhan Erdonmez studied age, gender, education, and even urbanized areas of Turkey as factors of crime. According to his research, he found that age, education, age, and location had no effect on the crime rates in Turkey. However his study showed that women feared being mugged more then men fear being burglarized in their own home. Also Erdonmez's study shows that the media mainly responsible for crime because a majority of Turkey's citizens (476:87.3%) say that crime is learned from television programs and the media compared to other sources. The citizens of Turkey know that crime still exists, but fear the media is the biggest contributor.[28]



Family Law


Marriage in Turkey operates much differently from our American system of marriage. Only Civil marriage is legal in Turkey, of course religious ceremonies are not prohibited, but they have no legal standing and thus are not legal in the country of Turkey. In Turkey, if your country forbids you to marry an individual from a foreign country then you will not be able to obtain the necessary legal paper work needed for a legal marriage in Turkey. The minimum age to marry is 18 years of age in Turkey and only those with decent mental capacity have the right to marry. If a person is not mentally competent, then the marriage is barred. There are other prohibitions against marriage as well. Marriage between close relatives or consanguinity are grounds for a bar of the marriage. Certain illnesses, such as epilepsy also constitutes a bar of the marriage as well. Polygamy is also frowned upon in Turkey, thus all previous marriages a man and woman had previously must be terminated legally before a new marriage is consummated. [29]

Divorce in Turkey works differently as well. A women must wait 300 days to remarry after divorcing a man; this also applies to the man of the relationship. [30] There are many different, legally sound reasons for two individuals to divorce from each other in Turkey. They are: mental illness, maltreatment, attempting to kill, humiliating behavior, legal grounds are incompatible, living apart for three years after the court denied termination of marriage, committing a crime, unreasonable behavior, and adultery. The marriage will not be dissolved unless the petitioner proves fault in the opposing party and both spouses must mutually agree to divorce. The marriage will also not be dissolved unless both parties are present at the hearing. If the divorce is due to adultery, written affidavits will not be accepted as sufficient evidence and the spouses statements will be heard by a judge before the court. If a man has sex with another women (not his wife), vis-a-vis, then either one has legal right to file a divorce. sex with other individuals of the same sex does not count as adultery. In a case of maltreatment or attempted murder of spouse partner, if one spouse partner means to kill the other it is treated as attempt to kill. If the spouse partner beats, locks away, or starves the other to instill deterrence from leaving of the other it is considered maltreatment. Finally if there is humiliation in which one insults or acts in a dishonoring way towards the other, such as throwing them out of the family house or insulting them then it is considered grounds for divorce. [31]

Adoption and child laws in Turkey work as follows. In Turkey the parents of an adopted child must provide an education and care for the child for a year before the adoption is finalized. A child care contract must also be signed by both parents for the adoption to be finalized and the Director of Social Services and Protection remains the guardian until the adoption is finalized. [32] In matters of child custody, the child remains in the parent's custody until eighteen years of age. Both mother and father share custody of the child and custody can not be removed from either parent with out consent from the court. The father's legal preference is required if there is an argument in custody between spouses. A child under 18 will be provide with a guardian regardless of the age, if he/she does not have a parent or competent relative to care for him/her. The court's permission must be sought however. In alimony, every one is obliged to help their children, brothers, sisters, ect. However, the party that was not awarded custody of the child will be required to pay alimony in, regard to their financial standing, for child rearing and care. [33]

Social Inequality


There are many different groups that are discriminated against in Turkey one of which is children. In Turkey children are tried as adults in the Turkish courts if they commit crimes. A good example of this would be the demonstrations that were expressed by children as young as 12 years of age for the members of the Kurdish community, most of which involved violent clashes with policy. These young children were charged under Turkey's anti-terrorism act. These children were detained with no access to a lawyer or family members and no access to education, health facilities, and leisure activities. Many of these children had also reported torture and ill treatment while in these incarceration facilities. Recently the rights for children had been amended and now children may be tried in child courts, rather than adults in court. the process is slow though because it takes a while for the children to be transferred to Child Courts. [34]

Another group that has been denied their rights (namely, expression and association) are the gay, lesbian, transsexual groups. This was expressed in case where The Black Pink Triangle (an organization representing same sex groups)attempted to have rights extended to same sex groups such as freedom of association. The judge of Izmir court (where this case took place) struck down this case, stating that homosexuality and transsexuality violated moral values and family structure of Turkey. The case mainly involved the courts stopping short many Pink Black Triangle groups from joining other organizations such as KAOS-GL and Pembe Hayat (pink life). The Minister of Interior, Besir Atalay and the governor of Izmir, along with the prosecutor tried to have rights extended for same sex groups in this case. However the prosecutor also tried to have the case dropped. Therefore the case is still undecided.[35]

As far as gender inequality is concerned women and men seem to be equal in regards of treatment and rights.

Human Rights


In Turkey, there are little to no human rights protected for its citizens. In fact Turkey seems to be more concerned with promoting their economic growth. [36] In fact the UN Convention has provided a policy for Turkey to take immediate action on their policies on torture and inhumane, humiliating and cruel punishment, to prevent the authorities from carrying out excessive methods of torture and use of force on the citizens. The UN has suggested that the authorities would pay restitution for those who were previously tortured by the authorities. The UN Committee also recommended increasing the number authority, training of investigation prosecutors and police, and establishing a police complaint mechanism. The UN also have concerns of the police and Gendamerie shooting citizens in Turkey as well as arbitrary power to stop and ask citizens for papers which usaully leads to violent confrontations.[37] Another human rights issue in Turkey is freedom of association, which was a protected freedom in Turkey. the reason behind this was that the judge in the case felt that gay, lesbian, and other transsexual groups were violating moral standards and values of Turkey. Currently the case has not been decided because the prosecutor had called for the case to be dismissed, whereas the Governor of Izmir (where the case took place), Minister of Interior Bestir Atalay, and the prosecutor himself called for freedom of association to be protected. [38] Clearly there are not as many rights protected in Turkey as the U.S. Where we have protection of speech, expression,association, and torture; Turkey advocates the exact opposite of each which is causing The UN Leaders great concern. Children also do not have rights in court. They are tried as adults even in protest they are charged for protest under the anti-terror laws.

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