ECtHR rules Turkey violated MPs’ rights by stripping them of immunity in 2016

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled that Turkey violated the freedom of expression of 40 former lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) by lifting their parliamentary immunity through a constitutional amendment in 2016 and by their subsequent trial, ordering the government to pay 5,500 euros to each applicant, Turkish Minute reported.

In May 2016 Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), its ally the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) all voted in favor of a constitutional amendment designed specifically to revoke the parliamentary immunity of 137 lawmakers, 50 of whom were from the HDP while 51 were from the CHP.

Thanks to this amendment, the prosecution of lawmakers became possible, and many opposition lawmakers were subsequently detained.

Former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ and a number of other HDP MPs were arrested in November 2016 on accusations of links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU.

Since then, the government has ramped up its crackdown on the HDP, going so far as to seek the party’s closure.

Both the AKP and the MHP frequently accuse the HDP, the second-largest opposition group in parliament, of ties to the PKK. The party denies the government’s claim and says it is working to achieve a peaceful solution to Turkey’s so-called Kurdish issue.

The Kurdish issue, a term prevalent in Turkey’s public discourse, refers to the demand for equal rights by the country’s Kurdish population and their struggle for recognition.

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