EU Expresses Serious Concern Over Turkish Parliament Decision to Lift Immunities
“Today’s decision by the Turkish Parliament to permit the lifting of parliamentary immunity of a large number of Members of Parliament is a matter of serious concern,” read a joint statement by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn.
The statement demanded that any lifting of immunity must be applied equally, without discrimination.
“In line with relevant international recommendations, immunity must apply to all on a non-discriminatory basis and decisions on lifting immunity must be based on the merits of each specific case, according to transparent criteria and not subject to any political considerations,” the statement read.
The bill was introduced by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and was passed by a two-thirds majority.
It is seen as a move by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to prosecute Kurdish MPs of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which he has accused of acting as a wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the HDP, has denied Erdoğan’s accusations and has accused the president of trying to remove the opposition in order to manipulate parliamentary numbers and gain the support he needs to amend the constitution, putting more power into his own hands.
“Overall, the framework for parliamentary immunity should include specific and objective criteria for taking decisions on lifting immunity. A restrictive interpretation of the legal framework and the Constitution in particular continue to pose a risk to the freedom of expression of Members of Parliament in Turkey,” the EU statement said.
It added that “the right to a fair trial is fundamental to the rule of law, and key to ensure public confidence in the judiciary. Any alleged wrongdoing or crime committed by members of parliament should be subject to due process.”