Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of Turkey, Thomas Hammarberg (Sweden, SOC) and John Howell (the United Kingdom, EC/DA), have criticised Turkey over the closure of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP).
In a written statement, the co-rapporteurs disputed the recent legal steps taken by the Supreme Court of Cassation for the closure of the HDP and the stripping of HDP deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu’s status as a member of parliament.
“We urge the Turkish authorities to take meaningful steps to protect the functioning of the parliament”, they said, according to Mesopotamia Agency’s report.
Describing the stripping of Gergerlioğlu’s status as another blow against parliamentary rights and immunity in Turkey, the PACE co-rapporteurs said: “As a human rights activist and later as a deputy, Mr Gergerlioğlu has continuously fought for the protection of fundamental freedoms in Turkey and raised crucial human rights issues, including in the parliament. Stripping him of his parliamentary immunity further restricts the rights of opposition parliamentarians to express critical views and perform their oversight function. This further weakens the functioning of parliament”.
Regarding the HDP’s closure, they said, “this is another worrying development that adds to the crackdown on political opposition and civil dissent”. They continued: “We are extremely concerned that dozens of parliamentarians – and many other citizens – continue to be prosecuted for their statements on the basis of an anti-terror arsenal which is quite widely used and interpreted. As a result, the Turkish judicial system, which suffers from ‘pervasive problems regarding [its] independence and impartiality’, as noted by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers last week, continues to deliver sentences that are not compatible with the case-law of the Turkish Constitutional Court or the European Court of Human Rights. This leads to the termination of parliamentary mandates, which slowly but steadily erodes parliamentary democracy”.
Finally they called on Turkey to take action immediately regarding antidemocratic policies and to stop silencing critical voices. “We reiterate this call and urge the Turkish authorities to take meaningful and concrete steps, without further delay, to safeguard the functioning of its parliament. Turkey needs a functioning opposition and must stop silencing critical voices, even if this is annoying for the authorities. We also hope that the Constitutional Court will swiftly examine the individual application lodged by Mr Gergerlioğlu. Fundamental rights must be protected by deeds, not words. We again ask the Turkish authorities to cease policies and acts that undermine democracy and the rule of law, to abide by the rulings of the Strasbourg Court, to release former HDP leader Mr Demirtas and philantrophist Mr Kavala, and to ensure the conditions for political pluralism and respect for fundamental rights”.