Survey shows Turks believe courts unjust

A survey by Istanbul Bilgi University revealed that women, lower income groups and people with less education tend to have more confidence in the courts than others.

Survey shows Turks believe courts unjust

A recent survey showed 60 percent of Turks believe the decisions of Turkish courts are unjust.

Although there are some questions as to the reasons behind this, the results come as bad news for the institution, the first and foremost aim of which is to ensure justice.

The results, the product of a two-year project conducted by Istanbul's Bilgi University, in collaboration with the Open Society Institute in Turkey, were announced in a meeting Friday.

"Adalet Gözet" (Watch for Justice) studied how ordinary citizens view the Turkish judicial system, what their experiences are, and how their experiences are shaped.

"The principle we try to emphasize here is a principle of human rights," Professor Turgut Tarhanlı of Bilgi University's Law Department said while opening the meeting. "It is not enough to install justice, the fact that justice is ensured should be made visible also," he said, and added that this was the question the survey was based upon.

The project's coordinator, Seda Kalem of the Human Rights Law Research Center at Bilgi University, explained they had used three different methods during the project: On-site observation in courts to see what an ordinary citizen encounters, research in media archives to study how the media handles news pertaining to law and a survey conducted on 3,000 people in urban areas to determine citizens' experiences with the judicial system, the workings of courts, etc.

Galma Jahic of the Human Rights Law Research Center at Bilgi University explained that in the survey they had put five points in the spotlight: The rate of citizens with court experience, one way or the other; citizens' satisfaction and confidence; general approach toward courts, employment of a lawyer; and information about the system.

Only 29.5 percent of those surveyed had experience in a court, either as defendant, plaintiff, accused, victim, witness or spectator. "The treatment people receive is part of their experiences," said Jahic. The survey showed that victims in a penal case are those with the least satisfaction. "This is in line with our expectations, as penal cases are based on the accused," said Jahic.


One of the results of the survey is that it shows Turks do not really trust their judicial system. The researchers asked their subjects to rate their trust in the courts on a scale of one to five, with four being "have confidence" and five being "have complete confidence." The total of fours and fives revealed only 47.7 percent, staying below the halfway mark. Yet a more striking point was that women and lower-income groups, both of which are many times considered as "disadvantaged" groups, have a higher level of confidence in the judicial system than men and higher-income groups.


Researchers wanted to compare confidence in the judicial system to confidence in other institutions in Turkey. The survey revealed that the media is the least trusted institution among Turks while the Turkish Armed Forces, followed by the Constitutional Court, was the most trusted. "All of them, except for the Turkish Armed Forces and the Constitutional Court, stayed below the 50 percent mark," said Jahic.

The lack of confidence in the media as an institution comes as a surprise when one considers the fact that the survey also revealed that most Turks turn to the media to receive information about on-going court cases that are on the country's agenda. "Very clearly the media is a source of information in terms of how the justice system works in Turkey," said Jahic.

Turks are most critical of the fact that it takes too long for cases to be concluded and 46.2 percent said they would like to avoid taking conflicts to court, while only 40.2 percent believe courts protect everyone equally.

One of the most striking results of the survey was that only 40 percent of the people surveyed believe the courts' decisions are just. This revealed that more than half – 60 percent – of Turks find the Turkish judicial system to be unjust.

Turkish Daily News
Last Mod: 12 Nisan 2008, 16:01
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