The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Monday that a move in the Turkish parliament to strip MPs of immunity from prosecution constituted a violation of the right to freedom of expression, reported Bianet.
A constitutional amendment had been voted on and accepted in the Turkish parliament on 20 May in 2016 which consequently resulted in the stripping of 40 pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MPs of their immunity, including the co-chairs at the time, Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ. This move was followed by a mass arrest of HDP executives in November 2016.
Selahattin Demirtaş, Figen Yüksekdağ and many other former parliamentary deputies and senior HDP officials have been incarcerated since that time.
Mahsuni Karaman, a lawyer of Demirtaş tweeted:
“The ECHR made its final verdict: The immunities were stripped in violation of the Constitution. Hence we call to end all trials against HDP representatives who had been arrested when they were serving as deputies. And accordingly, all affected should be released immediately and retrials should take place.”
The ECHR also ruled that Turkey should pay compensation of 5,000 euros to each of the 40 deputies. 200,000 euros in total.
The controversial constitutional amendment in 2016 had been introduced by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and was supported by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in a gesture of an alliance with the AKP against the Kurdish political movement.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu had said at the time that they would vote in favour of the amendment ‘although it was unconstitutional.’ He ambiguously added: “If there will later be a cost to be paid, we will pay it for the sake of democracy.”