The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has stressed the critical importance of the principle of parliamentary immunity after a vote in the Turkish Parliament amending the constitution effectively stripped a quarter of the country’s MPs of their immunity. IPU is concerned that such wholesale lifting of immunity will weaken the parliament.
IPU believes immunity from prosecution while in office is crucial to protect MPs from politically-motivated allegations. It stresses that the lifting of immunity should always be agreed by a parliamentary vote on a case-by-case basis, and should require valid and credible allegations supported by serious evidence. IPU has also made clear that MPs’ fundamental rights must be upheld at all times, and that they should be able to speak freely without fear of reprisals.
IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians is investigating many alleged breaches of the rights of MPs around the world – including some in Turkey - among them opposition politicians who have faced prosecution after engaging in peaceful and legal political activities.
The Turkish decision triggers a blanket removal of immunity from 138 MPs with prior formal allegations against them - the overwhelming majority of them from the two main opposition parties. The country’s constitution previously stated that immunity could be lifted only on a case-by-case basis by a parliamentary vote.
“Of course we recognize that MPs are not above the law, and provision must be made for dealing with serious allegations, but it is essential that immunity is lifted only when the circumstances justify it and only by appropriate parliamentary procedure on a case-by-case basis. By upholding the principle of parliamentary immunity, IPU is seeking to preserve the integrity of the parliamentary institution wherever it is in jeopardy,” said IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong. “At a time of increased polarization, it is all the more important that the Parliament verifies carefully that peaceful and legal political activities by Turkish MPs are not presented as evidence of criminal and terrorist acts.”
The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is the global organization of national parliaments. It works to safeguard peace and drives positive democratic change through political dialogue and concrete action.
For further information, please contact
IPU, Jemini Pandya, Director of Communications
Tel: +41 79 217 33 74