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Lift of immunity - Turkey loses separation of powers

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Lift of immunity - Turkey loses separation of powers

20-05-2016

On Friday, 20 May 2016, 373 out of 550 Members of Turkish Parliament approved the draft of a bill to lift lawmakers’ immunity from prosecution. Democracy International explains why this means a huge danger to the separation of powers, a core principle of a parliamentary democracy in the context of democracy and rule of law.

Once in effect, the new law would allow prosecutors to control members of parliament who currently face investigation. This are 138 deputies, of whom 101 are from the pro-Kurdish HDP party as well as the opposition Republican People’s Party (Source Reuters).

The parliament's vote is extremely worrying in view of Turkey’s state of democracy and rule of law. The purpose of parliamentary immunity is to guarantee the separation of powers, i.e. the clear distinction between those who pass the laws (legislature), those who implement them (executive) and those who monitor and check them (judiciary).   

When deputies have to fear prosecution, they are less likely to act and to vote freely. However, parliamentarians’ independence is necessary to initiate new law proposals, to openly criticise the government and to ensure plurality of opinions. This not being given, the procedure of law making is threatened in Turkey, and in a wider context democracy and the rule of law overall.

Democracy International has highlighted the relationship between democracy and rule of law in the background paper “The Rule of Law – When is it Threantened”, also available for download below.

 

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