Sunday, May 22, 2016

EU expresses serious concern over Turkish parliament decision to lift immunities

The European Union has said the bloc was seriously concerned over the lifting of parliamentary immunity of dozens of Turkish lawmakers, expressing its worries that the move would pose a risk to the freedom of expression of democratically elected members of the parliament.

“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 issued by EU High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn on late May 20.

“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,” read the statement.

A constitutional amendment submitted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been endorsed by 376 of 550 lawmakers on May 20 to lift the immunities of 148 lawmakers having more than 700 pending cases against them, mostly those from the Kurdish-question focused People’s Democratic Party (HDP).

Mogherini and Hahn stressed that the framework for parliamentary immunity should include specific and objective criteria for taking decisions on lifting immunity, adding “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 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,” read the joint statement.

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