Between the Privilege of Committing Crime and Political Freedoms: Parliamentary Immunities in Turkey

Immunities go beyond the protection of legislative functions, and therefore of public interest, and provide deputies the “privilege of crime”.

Parliamentary immunity has always been one of the critical topics of political and legal discussions in Turkey. Before the discussion of the matter and the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) relevant proposal for the elimination of parliamentary immunities, it should be stressed that the issue is not about the parliamentary non-accountability but legislative immunity. The parliamentary non-accountability means that lawmakers cannot be held to account for opinions expressed or votes cast in the exercise of their official duties. The non-accountability provides an absolute protection to a member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly (hereafter Assembly) and such protection cannot be lifted by Parliament.

On the other hand, legislative immunity aims to protect a deputy from arbitrary and unfounded inquiries. Article 83 of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey provides that members of the Assembly shall not be liable for any criminal action unless the Assembly decides otherwise. The execution of a criminal sentence imposed on a parliamentary member either before or after his/her election shall be suspended until s/he ceases to be a member. This is the kind of immunity which was subjected to an amendment in Turkey today.

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[The New Turkey, April 29, 2016]

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