Turkey : Stop judicial harassment of parliamentarians

Yasin Akgul / AFP

On February 12, 2024, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Turkey Human Rights Litigation Support Project, Human Rights Watch, and the International Commission of Jurists (“the NGOs”) made a joint Rule 9.2 submission to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The submission provides the Committee with information and recommendations on the state of implementation of individual and general measures by Türkiye in relation to the European Court of Human Rights’ Selahattin Demirtaş (no. 2) v Turkey [GC] (Application no. 14305/17) and Yüksekdağ Şenoğlu and others v Turkey (Application no. 14332/17) judgments.

The NGOs’ recommendations in the submission presented to the Committee ahead of its 1492nd Human Rights meetings in March 2024 include the issue of individual measures :
 Initiating infringement proceedings under Article 46(4) of the Convention in relation to Türkiye’s continued failure to release Mr. Demirtaş and Ms. Yüksekdağ Şenoğlu from detention ;
 Requesting that Turkish authorities ensure restitutio in integrum to all of the applicants, by annulling criminal proceedings initiated during their term in office pursuant to the constitutional amendment of May 2016 (including in the ongoing “Kobani trial” based on the “6-8 October 2014 events”, which was the subject of the Court’s judgments) ; and annulling proceedings similarly based on the applicants’ political activities, where they relate to an identical or similar factual context as examined by the Court.

Regarding general measures, the NGOs call on the Committee of Ministers to urge Türkiye to :
 Annul and remedy all criminal proceedings initiated during the HDP MPs’ term in office based on the constitutional amendment of May 2016 ;
 Annul and remedy criminal proceedings relying on a decision by the judiciary to set aside parliamentary inviolability, contrary to the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court ;
 Put an end to the judicial harassment of parliamentarians, which has unduly impeded the exercise of their political mandate, by ensuring that judicial authorities refrain from submitting summaries of proceedings (fezleke) in connection with their exercise of their Convention rights ;
 Take concrete steps to ensure that parliamentary non-liability under Article 83(2) of the Constitution is systematically and genuinely applied by prosecutorial and judicial authorities ;
 Take concrete steps to ensure the ECtHR jurisprudence on freedom of expression is genuinely and effectively applied by prosecutorial and judicial authorities when applying and interpreting anti-terrorism or national security laws ; and secure the implementation of the Committee of Ministers’ and Venice Commission’s recommendations on this issue ;
 Ensure that remedies and safeguards against arbitrary interferences with the rights of elected representatives and other opposition politicians are effective in practice, including by strengthening the effectiveness of the individual application process to the Constitutional Court and protecting its independence ;
 Take specific measures to address the obstacles described in this submission to opposition politicians’ exercise of their elected mandates in a free and safe environment.underscore the key role that the Committee’s supervision will play in ensuring Türkiye’s compliance with the judgments, and international oversight and provide views on four central issues.

1. The government’s claim that the ongoing detention of Mr Kavala does not fall within the scope of the 10 December 2019 and 11 July 2022 judgments of the ECtHR, which is profoundly misleading and in direct defiance of the Court’s rulings.
2. The government’s false argument that the Grand Chamber did not address the April 2022 conviction of the applicant in its July 2022 judgment.
3. The imperative that Mr. Kavala be released immediately as part of the appropriate and urgent response to the Grand Chamber judgment.
4. The necessity of the Committee increasing its efforts to secure the release of Mr Kavala by effectively using all designated legal, political, diplomatic, and financial tools in hand while continuing to firmly condemn Türkiye’s refusal to implement the judgment.

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