Turkish Parliament to convene if jailed deputies released

Turkish Parliament to convene if jailed deputies released

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish Parliament to convene if jailed deputies released

Parliament’s General Assembly will gather for an extraordinary session if currently jailed parliamentary deputies are released after a recently adopted arrangement.

Both the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) have declared that they will call an extraordinary session of Parliament’s General Assembly if currently jailed parliamentary deputies are released thanks to a recently adopted legal arrangement extending the scope of judicial control measures.

“As soon as our jailed deputies are released, we will call an extraordinary session of Parliament’s General Assembly during which our jailed deputies will [take their oaths and] begin their duties. We believe the other political parties will contribute to this process,” CHP deputy chair Erdoğan Toprak said yesterday in a written statement.

A recently adopted third judicial reform package raised hope for the eight jailed deputies, who were elected while in prison during the June 12, 2011 elections, because judges will be able to implement judicial control without a maximum limit, rather than relying on detention. Previously this was only applicable for those facing charges punishable with up to three years in jail.

After the recent reform came into force, many high-profile suspects in the Ergenekon and Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup plot cases and the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) case, including jailed lawmakers, applied to courts for their release, citing the recent judicial amendments.

BDP deputy parliamentary group chair Hasip Kaplan said lawmakers should take their parliamentary oaths to start their duties if they are released on the condition of judicial control. “A test has begun for the specially authorized courts as of today. We’ll see what they will do after the recent amendments. There’s no excuse left for these courts. If our lawmakers were released, a one-day session would be necessary; we are considering it,” Kaplan told reporters at a press conference in Parliament yesterday.

Welcoming the calls from the CHP and BDP, the deputy parliamentary group chair of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Oktay Vural, however, suggested that it was Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek’s duty to make such a call.

The ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) deputy parliamentary group chair, Mustafa Elitaş, said the opposition parties do not need the ruling party’s support to call an extraordinary session, adding that his party will not “boycott” such a session.

On July 3 Parliament entered its summer recess, which will end on Oct. 1. One-fifth of Parliament members, or 110 lawmakers, would be party to the call for an extraordinary session. The AKP holds 324 seats in Parliament, while the CHP has 135, the MHP has 51 and the BDP has 29.

Eight deputies are currently behind bars, all of whom are from opposition parties: five from the BDP, two from the CHP and one from the MHP. Their detention has been controversial since their election to Parliament in last year’s June elections, and led to strong pressure on the government from the international community.

Turkey, human rights, akp, erdogan