Developments in Turkey are often difficult to understand from the outside. But the events of the past few days must seem particularly opaque. News of investigations into corruption and bribery broke on December 17 with a wave of arrests including the sons of three government ministers, a governing party mayor, a leading contractor and a bank director.
“The government’s immediate move to purge elements of the police while ministers facing serious allegations initially remained in office raises fundamental questions, though, about whether the rule of law does apply to the powerful in Turkey. So far the signs are that the government has a self-serving approach when it comes to holding public officials accountable: no criminal sanctions against the police for excessive use of force and seriously injuring non-violent demonstrators during the protests back in the spring but immediate steps to demote police for investigating government-linked corruption.
There are concerns that the corruption has been exposed only because key elements of the police and judiciary are taking sides in a political power struggle. But the politics should not obscure the fundamental obligation for the government to support a thorough and independent criminal investigation into all serious and credible allegations. The government should be ready to see those implicated face prosecution, whoever they are. Above all it needs to avoid taking steps that weaken or undermine the rule of law.”