Turkish lawmakers elected seven members to a reshaped judicial authority on Wednesday, part of a constitutional overhaul backed by a referendum last month that considerably expands the powers of President Tayyip Erdogan.
Erdogan says the changes are vital to ensure stability in Turkey, which is battling Kurdish and extremist militants and experienced an abortive coup last year blamed by Ankara on a US-based cleric who had many supporters in the judiciary.
But opposition parties and human rights groups say the reforms threaten judicial independence and push Turkey towards one-man rule. Some of Turkey’s NATO allies and the European Union, which it aspires to join, have also expressed concern.
The two largest opposition parties, who say the April 16 referendum was marred by possible fraud, boycotted the overnight vote in parliament appointing seven members to a redesigned, 13-strong Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) - all candidates of the ruling AK Party and its nationalist MHP ally.
The council oversees the appointment, promotion, transfer, disciplining and dismissal of judges and prosecutors.
The judiciary had previously appointed most of the HSK members but following the referendum parliament now picks seven and Erdogan a further four. The other two members of the board are the justice minister and ministry undersecretary.
“The vote has further politicized the judiciary, turning it into a totally AKP and MHP judiciary,” Filiz Kerestecioglu, a deputy from the pro-Kurdish HDP, told Reuters, saying it had decided not to participate because the process was illegitimate.
Turkish MPs elect judicial board under new Erdogan constitution