Failure to allow independent investigation of corruption charges will have damaging wider impact on Turkish society
Last night’s vote to maintain the immunity of four former ministers facing corruption charges will contribute to a culture of impunity for politicians, Transparency International Turkey said today.
By voting down a proposal to lift parliamentary immunity that would allow an independent judicial investigation into corruption charges, Turkey’s politicians have sent the wrong message to prosecutors, corruption fighters and the Turkish public about accountability and rule of law, the Turkish chapter of global anti-corruption group Transparency International warned.
The vote has created yet another example of impunity for corruption which risks becoming a normalised feature of Turkish society, it added.
“This vote means that Turkish people will not get a chance to see a fair judicial process that sheds light on corruption charges that have tarnished the reputation of politics in the country for two years. Whether the charges are true or false is no longer the issue: people need to see that justice is for all, not just for some. In any democracy, it is vital Parliamentary immunity does not become a slippery slope to impunity,” said Oya Ozarslan, chair of Transparency International Turkey.
“This vote has taken the culture of political impunity to a dangerous new level. The way this investigation has been carried out, with constant political interference with, and sometimes outright harassment of, judiciary and media, raises a big question mark about the government’s will to tackle corruption.”
“Today’s vote will only reinforce the growing global perception that corruption is a major problem in Turkey.”
Turkey was the biggest faller in the 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index, the only country whose score fell by five points (from 50 out of 100 in 2013 to 45 in 2014), with four countries’ scores falling by four points. A fall of three points signifies a significant increase from year-to-year, according to Transparency International. The average score of the 175 countries was 44, on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean).
Trust in Turkish politics is low, with 66 per cent of Turks telling a 2013 global survey that political parties are corrupt, more than any other institution in the country.
In a blog post published last week, Transparency International Turkey highlighted a series of events that show freedom of expression and judicial independence increasingly under threat in Turkey.
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