European Court rules that lifting MP immunities contravenes human rights

Statement by HDP Foreign Affairs Co-spokespersons Feleknas Uca and Hişyar Özsoy

On Tuesday 1 February 2022, the European Court of Human Rights issued a judgement on the case of forty HDP MPs who had their political immunities lifted following a constitutional amendment made on 20 May 2016 that allowed this to be done en masse without considering individual cases. (Under this link you will find the French version of the judgment). Following the lifting of their immunities criminal proceedings were brought against the MPs and 14 were remanded in custody.

The Court ruled that the lifting of their immunities infringed their right of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, in contravention of article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In making this judgement they referred to two previous cases where political immunities had been lost as the result of this amendment: those of Selahattin Demirtaş, for whom the court demanded immediate release at the end of 2020, and of Filiz Kerestecioğlu Demir.

Selahattin Demirtaş’s lawyer Mahsuni Karaman has observed that this ruling implies that all imprisoned HDP MPs should be released, including former co-chairs Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ. Our Co-chair Mithat Sancar commented, “The ECHR is saying that the lifting of immunities is unlawful; it has once again said that it is unlawful and political discrimination. This government is violating the Constitution.”

We would like to emphasize that the Turkish government has refused to implement the recent ECtHR judgements in the cases of Osman Kavala and Selahattin Demirtaş against Turkey. As a member of the Council of Europe, Turkey is legally obliged to comply with the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights.