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Rights court fines Turkey over lifting parliamentary immunity of pro-Kurdish MP

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The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has fined Turkey for violating the freedom of expression of Filiz Kerestecioğlu, a pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker, by lifting her parliamentary immunity based on a constitutional amendment in 2016, Turkish media reported on Tuesday.

The court ordered the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to pay the MP 5,000 euros ($6,013) in non-pecuniary damages in addition to the 4,000 euros ($4,810) for costs and expenses for violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

According to a press release by the ECtHR, the MP complained in the application lodged on Nov. 11, 2016, that withdrawing her immunity, which she said was based on her political opinions, had infringed her rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, violating Articles 9, 10, 11 and 18 of the convention.

The court also said that a public prosecutor drew up an investigation report against Kerestecioğlu in May 2016 with a view to withdrawing her immunity several months after she contested a police warning not to chant “provocative” slogans during a meeting of about 200 people in İstanbul.

The report of a criminal investigation submitted to the Ministry of Justice concerned the lawmaker’s participation in the meeting and her statement to the press on February 14, 2016, the ECtHR said.

Kerestecioğlu was acquitted of the charges against her twice, first on Jan. 25, 2018, when the local court said the meeting in 2016 was peaceful, and once again on Feb. 12, 2019, after an İstanbul prosecutor appealed the 2018 judgment.

“In February 2019 the prosecutor again appealed against the judgment [in 2019]. The criminal proceedings against Kerestecioğlu are still pending in the national courts,” the ECtHR indicated.

According to an activity report released by the ECtHR in late January, Turkey ranked first among the 47 Council of Europe (CoE) member states in the number of judgments from the court concerning violations of Article 10 of the convention on freedom of expression in 2020.

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