Turkey’s Erdoğan signs bill lifting lawmakers’ immunity

Turkey’s Erdoğan signs bill lifting lawmakers’ immunity

ISTANBUL - Reuters
Turkey’s Erdoğan signs bill lifting lawmakers’ immunity

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan approved a bill on June 7 that will lift lawmakers’ immunity from prosecution, his office said, paving the way for the removal of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) from parliament. 

Erdoğan has accused the HDP, parliament’s third-biggest party, of being the political wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The HDP denies links with militants of the PKK. It fears an overwhelming majority of its 59 deputies could be jailed under the new law, mostly for views they have expressed. 

Lawmakers have until now enjoyed immunity from prosecution. The new law allows prosecutors to pursue any of the 138 members of parliament who are currently under investigation. Of those, 101 are from the HDP or Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). 

Erdoğan’s opponents say the lifting of immunity is part of a strategy to push the HDP out of parliament, strengthen the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and consolidate support in the assembly for an executive presidential system he has long sought. 

The legislation has increased concerns in the European Union about Turkey’s record on democracy and human rights at a time when the bloc is also trying to implement a controversial deal with Ankara aimed at stemming illegal migration to Europe from Turkish shores.