Turkish Parliament Approves Bill Stripping MPs’ İmmunity

Par7991064Turkey’s parliament approved a bill to lift lawmakers’ immunity from prosecution on Friday, a constitutional change that the pro-Kurdish opposition has warned could see its parliamentary presence all but wiped out.

In Friday’s third and final vote in a secret ballot, 376 MPs in the 550-seat parliament backed the plan to lift MPs’ immunity from prosecution, a high enough level of support to change the constitution directly without needing to hold a referendum.

With the approval of the move, a legal process on 139 lawmakers with 682 different dossiers will begin after Erdoğan’s approval of the bill and its publication in the Official Gazette. The number of the dossiers will increase to 787 as the remaining 105 cases will be sent to parliament. More than 200 of these dossiers concern terror-related crimes, according to Justice Ministry officials.

According to the information gathered by legal experts and parliamentary administrators, the dossiers pending in parliament will first be sent back to the prosecutors through the office of the prime minister and the Justice Ministry. This process is expected to be concluded in 15 days.

Around 200 prosecutors will be tasked with looking into the dossiers and classifying them according to the nature of the offense. Prosecutors will invite lawmakers to give their testimony and will decide to open cases against them after evaluating their defenses and the evidence provided.

If the prosecutor believes that there is no need to open a case, he or she will abandon the legal process. But if there is reason to open a case, the prosecutor can demand an arrest warrant from the court, in line with the nature of the charges faced by the lawmaker.

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