Parties agree on immunity article of new Constitution

Parties agree on immunity article of new Constitution

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Parties agree on immunity article of new Constitution

According to the agreement reached by members of Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission, even if Parliament allows the trial of lawmakers, it will not be able to allow their arrest. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

All four parties represented in Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission have agreed that every phase regarding deputies’ legislative immunity – investigation, testimony, trial and arrest – should be possible only with permission from Parliament.

Accordingly, even if Parliament allows the trial of deputies, it may not allow their arrest. In this way, it will be possible to try deputies without arrest.

The agreement was reached through debates at the commission on Jan. 7 and yesterday. The commission also agreed on three clauses regarding the article covering “legislative nonliability and immunity.”

Three clauses regarding immunity have been agreed. First, the execution of a sentence of a deputy – whether it is adjudicated before or after the election – is postponed to the end of deputyship except for crimes violating the legitimacy the deputy’s election. Any investigation and prosecution of a deputy who is re-elected depends on the lifting of his immunity by Parliament. Second, during the deputyship, the statute of limitations is not valid. Finally, political party groups in Parliament cannot meet and make decisions about legislative immunity. However, the parties couldn’t reach an agreement outlining the crimes that should not be subject to immunity protection.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) agreed that the summary of proceedings concerning the lifting of a deputy’s immunity sent to Parliament should be assumed as rejected if it is not discussed in the General Assembly within 90 days.

The three parties met with an objection from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which argued that such a move would mean dropping of all the files waiting at Parliament.

While the CHP and MHP wanted deputies to be tried at the Supreme Court of Appeals, the AKP and BDP proposed that deputies should be tried according to the general principles.

The MHP, for its part, proposed that terror crimes should not be subject to legislative immunity protection. Yet, there was no eventual agreement concerning this issue either.

‘Arrest should not be punishment’

At the writing commission, a sub-commission of Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission, constitutional assurance has been provided for people to meet immediately with their lawyers after being taken into custody.

The sub-commission also agreed that the maximum time to be held in custody should be 24 hours, while the maximum time for collective crimes was set as 96 hours.

Another clause on which there is agreement is: “The maximum periods of arrest during investigation and prosecution processes are outlined by law. Under no circumstances can arrest be turned into a method of punishment.”

The agreement on this clause was reached after the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) gave up its insistence on having a time limit for arrest in the new Constitution due to many lengthy detention cases in the ongoing Ergenekon and Balyoz coup plot cases.