IPU: The fundamental rights of parliamentarians must be upheld at all times

The decisions of the Committee on IPU Human Rights Committee taken at the 139th IPU Assembly Meetings on our imprisoned MPs.

Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union;

1.Thanks the Turkish IPU Group for the information provided and for meeting with the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians during the 139th IPU Assembly to discuss the cases and concerns at hand; and takes due note that the parties continue to hold opposite positions and views about most issues of concern;

2. Is pleased that the Turkish authorities granted access to the IPU trial observer during the hearings in the case of Ms Yüksekdag of 17 May and 24 October 2018; decides to renew the mandate of the IPU trial observer for future hearings, in particular the next hearing scheduled on 5 November 2018; looks forward to receiving a full report on the hearings attended at the next IPU Assembly;

3. Remains deeply concerned at the situation of the members of the HDP, many of whom are no longer parliamentarians after the June 2018 elections; notes with concern that, as of October 2018, at least 20 of them have received prison sentences, nine have been stripped of their parliamentary mandate and 14 have gone into exile and have obtained – or are seeking – political asylum abroad, while nine of them continue to be held in detention, including Mr. Selahattin Demirtaş, who was recently convicted to almost five years in prison, together with
Mr. Sirri Sürreya Önder, for a speech delivered on peacebuilding during the Newroz celebrations in Istanbul in March 2013, which was considered to be terrorist propaganda despite its apparent peaceful content; wishes to receive further information from the authorities about the grounds for this conviction and a copy of the reasoned judgement;

4. Is concerned that the facts and evidence supporting the mass terrorism-related charges brought against HDP members appear to be related essentially to statements, participation in protests and funerals and other political activities undertaken by the parliamentarians; recalls in this regard its long-standing concerns and recommendations over freedom of expression and association related to anti-terrorist legislation and the offence of membership of a criminal organization;

5. Reaffirms that the fundamental rights of parliamentarians must be upheld at all times, that members of parliament should be able to speak freely without fear of reprisals, that parliamentary immunity is crucial to protect members of parliament from politically motivated
accusations, but also to protect the independence and integrity of the institution of parliament as a whole; condemns the manner in which Turkish parliamentarians were stripped of their parliamentary immunity following the adoption of a “temporary” constitutional amendment on 20 May 2016 by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, which suspended the ordinary procedure for the lifting of immunity and authorized a blanket removal of immunity for a total of 139 members of parliament from all political parties, including 55 members of the HDP; further reaffirms its long-standing position that parliament should set aside the necessary time to consider requests for the lifting of parliamentary immunity and to apply the basic principles of due process, including a hearing of the parliamentarian(s) affected, and that a decision to lift 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; reiterates that these requirements were all the more important at a time of increased polarization after the failed coup d’état of 15 July 2016, when the Grand National Assembly of Turkey should have carefully checked that peaceful and legal political activities by Turkish members of parliament were not unduly presented as evidence of criminal and terrorist acts at a time when the prosecutors and judges involved in these cases were massively dismissed and charged with terrorism and other criminal charges themselves as part of the Fethullah Gülen terrorist organization (FETÖ) case;

6. Deeply regrets that the Turkish authorities have not responded to the renewed request by the the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to proceed with its fact-finding mission, even more so given the fact that they are challenging the objectivity of its assessment but not allowing it to verify the facts on the ground; continues to believe that a mission of the Committee to Turkey would help the IPU gain a better understanding of the situation of the HDP parliamentarians and former parliamentarians, but also of the broader political, security and human rights situation; is firmly convinced that such a mission can only be successful if the delegation is allowed to meet with the parliamentarians and former parliamentarians in prison and with the judicial authorities; therefore urges the Turkish authorities to authorize the mission at the earliest convenience on that basis;

7. Further regrets that the Turkish authorities have not kept the Committee apprised of developments in the case since the 138th IPU Assembly, nor provided new information at the hearing held during the 139th IPU decision; points out that the delegation presented an
extensive oral statement to the Committee but has not provided any new substantive written information to it, whereas the HDP has provided extensive documentation, including copies of most court decisions recently delivered against HDP members of parliament; requests the Committee to conduct an in-depth analysis of these decisions and to report on its findings at the next IPU Assembly; also welcomes any additional information that the parties may wish to submit to facilitate the Committee’s assessment;

8. Renews its call on all IPU member Parliaments, including on the Parliaments member of the Twelve Plus Geopolitical Group, as well as parliamentary assemblies and associations with IPU permanent observer status active in the region, to take concrete actions in support of the urgent resolution of this case; also counts on the assistance of all relevant regional and international organizations;

9. Requests the Secretary General to convey this decision to the parliamentary authorities, the complainant and any third party likely to be in a position to supply relevant information, to pursue his efforts to organize the requested mission by a Committee delegation and future trial observation missions, as well as to ensure the timely translation and analysis of the court decisions provided to the Committee;

9. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and to report back to it in due course.

14-18 October 2018