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PACE Turkey monitors welcome the release of opposition MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu

The PACE co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of Turkey, Thomas Hammarberg (Sweden, SOC) and John Howell (United Kingdom, EC/DA), have welcomed the release of Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, an MP from the opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), following a ruling of the Constitutional Court on 1st July 2021. Mr Gergerlioğlu had been sentenced to two and half years of prison after re-tweeting a news article – which was not subject to legal proceedings – in August 2016. He was stripped of his parliamentary immunity in March 2021, a decision condemned by the PACE monitors, and detained.

“We welcome the decision of the Constitutional Court, which clearly and unanimously stated that Mr Gergerlioğlu’s right to be elected and engage in political activities, and his right to personal security and liberty, had been violated. Once again, the Constitutional Court has proved to be instrumental in redressing violations of the rights of a parliamentarian. We now expect that Mr Gergerlioğlu – who was finally released five days after the ruling of the Constitutional Court – will be allowed to return to parliament without further delay and exercise his political mandate,” said Mr Hammarberg and Mr Howell.

“The unfounded terror-related legal proceedings brought against Mr Gergerlioğlu, which resulted in his unlawful conviction and detention, are unfortunately symptomatic of the judicial harassment suffered by opposition parliamentarians, as established in April 2021 by the Assembly in its Resolution 2376 (2021). This process is further illustrated by the dissolution procedure of the HDP currently under consideration by the Constitutional Court, which is extremely worrying. We once again call on the Turkish authorities to be inspired by the principles and fundamental freedoms which underpin Turkey’s membership of the Council of Europe, and to take the necessary measures to put an end to anti-democratic practices which seriously undermine the functioning of democratic institutions in Turkey,” they added.

“Stripping elected representatives of their parliamentary immunity is a very serious issue, with a meaningful impact on the functioning of parliament and on the country’s political life. It therefore needs to be carefully considered. In this case, Mr Gergerlioğlu unlawfully spent three months in detention, deprived of his parliamentary mandate, while waiting for his case to be reviewed by the Constitutional Court. We therefore reiterate the Assembly’s call to the Turkish authorities to pay due respect to MPs’ parliamentary immunity, and to find legal ways to ensure that individual applications lodged by MPs can be swiftly reviewed by the Constitutional Court before convictions of Members of Parliament are enforced and their parliamentary immunity is lifted,” the co-rapporteurs concluded.