Turkey’s top court rejects petition to strike down immunity bill

Turkey’s top court rejects petition to strike down immunity bill

Turkey’s top court rejects petition to strike down immunity bill Turkey’s top court has rejected an appeal by a group of opposition lawmakers seeking to strike down legislation stripping scores of lawmakers of their legislative immunity from prosecution.

Lawmakers from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) applied to the Constitutional Court on May 26 to annul a controversial constitutional amendment that scraps immunities of many MPs on the grounds that it violates fundamental aspects of the charter. 

The state-run Anadolu Agency said the court rejected the petition after deliberations on June 3. It did not immediately provide a reason.

Turkey’s parliament last month approved amendments to the constitution to pave the way for the trials of some 148 legislators about whom there are 796 summaries of proceedings in total.

The amendments were proposed after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the Kurdish problem-focused HDP of being an arm of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and repeatedly called for its lawmakers’ prosecution. He has yet to ratify the bill.

The petition filed by the CHP and the HDP deputies to the Constitutional Court was based on Article 85 of the constitution:

“If the parliamentary immunity of a deputy has been lifted or if the loss of membership has been decided according to the first, third or fourth paragraphs of Article 84, the deputy in question or another deputy may, within seven days from the date of the decision of the plenary, appeal to the Constitutional Court for the decision to be annulled on the grounds that it is contrary to the constitution, law or the rules of procedure. The Constitutional Court shall make the final decision on the appeal within fifteen [15] days.”

According to the amendment, 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 those 796 files. As soon as a temporary constitutional amendment goes into force, all those 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.