[JURIST] The Turkish Constitutional Court [official website, in Turkish] on Friday struck down parts of a controversial law that increased Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's control over the judicial system. Amid protests over suspected government corruption and violence inside parliament, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website] pushed the bill through parliament. Critics saw the law as a way for Erdogan to suppress the growing corruption scandal. The court accepted parts of the Republican People's Party's (CHP) [party website] appeal and struck down provisions granting the justice minister powers over the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors and the provision giving the judicial ministry power to investigate prosecutors. The controversy has sparked protests, to which police have responded with force. Since the graft scandal broke, the Turkish government has transferred or dismissed thousands of police officers and hundreds of judges and prosecutors. Erdogan's supporters argue the law is meant to root out those who intend to overthrow the current government.
The law, which was enacted [JURIST report] in February has already been used to appoint at least nine senior judges. Also in February the Turkish parliament approved [JURIST report] legislation to heighten Internet restrictions, granting the country's telecommunications authority the ability to block websites or remove content without the court's approval. In December Erdogan named [JURIST report] 10 new members of his cabinet following the resignation of three members under investigation for graft. The controversy has highlighted some of the issues surrounding Turkey's judicial system. Also in December a Turkish court rejected [JURIST report] bids to release two members of the parliament for the Kurdish Peace and Democratic Party (BDP), Gulser Yildirim and Ibrahim Ayhan. Yildirim and Ayhan have been detained since 2010 when they were each charged with links to the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).