Ruling AKP insists controversial immunity bill is constitutional

Ruling AKP insists controversial immunity bill is constitutional

Ruling AKP insists controversial immunity bill is constitutional

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The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has insisted that a provisional change allowing parliament to lift the legislative immunity of some MPs complies with the constitution, rejecting claims to the contrary by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

“The proposal itself actually doesn’t make any claims about the guilt or innocence of lawmakers,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said on April 28, speaking at parliament’s Constitution Commission, which was holding its first commission-level meeting on the proposal. 

“We consider our proposal to be one that lifts the constitutional barrier to trying lawmakers for one time only, and which allows them to be tried by an additional provision added to the constitution,” Bozdağ said.

According to the proposal, a provision of Article 83 of the constitution that states, “A deputy who is alleged to have committed an offence before or after election shall not be detained, interrogated, arrested or tried unless the General Assembly decides otherwise,” will not be applied for current files. As soon as a temporary constitutional amendment goes into force, all 600 files of summaries of proceedings waiting at parliament’s Joint Constitution and Justice Commission and the Parliament Speaker’s Office, as well as files waiting at the Prime Ministry and the Justice Ministry, will be returned to the Prime Minister’s Office within 15 days in order to be sent to the judicial authorities.

The commission meeting was held only hours after a plenary session descended into violence late on April 27, and in it once again high tension spilled over into fisticuffs.

“It is not possible to comply with an attack by 150 to 200 deputies at parliament’s plenary session yesterday against a political party that used its podium immunity. It is possible to describe [this attack] as nothing but indecency and banditry,” HDP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair İdris Baluken said at the meeting.

AKP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Naci Bostancı rejected Baluken’s claim that HDP MPs do not have podium immunity.

“I strictly reject the claim that HDP deputies don’t have podium immunity. Since 2011, I have been listening to esteemed lawmakers from the HDP from the podium, and we will continue to listen to them from now on,” Bostancı said.