Top human rights court rules in favour of ex-MP against Turkey

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ordered Turkey to pay compensation to former member of parliament Filiz Kerestecioğlu over violation of her freedom of expression, Euro News Turkish reported on Tuesday.

Kerestecioğlu was stripped of her parliamentary immunity in May 2016, along with 55 of her fellow deputies from the pro-Kurdish left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

The ECHR said the constitutional amendment of May 2016 that allowed for the mass lifting of immunities for a total of 70 opposition deputies was related to antiterrorism efforts, and thus the deputies couldn’t be convicted of terrorism offences for expressing political opinions.

The top court also referred to the imprisoned former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, and his case at the ECHR, where the court issued a similar ruling.

Turkey was ordered to pay €9,000 ($10,800) to Kerestecioğlu in compensation for having violated the former deputy’s freedom of expression.

A long time feminist campaigner, Kerestecioğlu had attended a women’s demonstration on Valentine’s Day in 2016. The police told protesters they had been chanting what they called provocative slogans.

An investigation on the then-deputy started in May of the same year, and before the month ended, Kerestecioğlu’s immunity was lifted.

The vote in parliament to amend the constitution received yes votes from the main opposition centre-left Republican People’s Party (CHP), whose leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu spoke against the amendment.

“The amendment goes against the Constitution, but we will say yes,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. The party took this stance to protect its members from demonization by the government, various CHP officials said at the time.

Kerestecioğlu is a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), and the third chair at PACE Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination.