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Volume 711: debated on Thursday 4 June 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the prosecutions in Turkey of Ahmet Turk, Emin Ayna, Fatma Kurtulan, Sebahettin Demirtas, Sebahat Tuncel and Aysel Tugluk, some of whom are elected parliamentarians, allegedly accused on grounds arising from their speeches, affect Turkey's application for European Union membership; if not, whether they will raise the matter with Turkey; and whether the European Union will take any action. [HL3935]

The charges against the Democratic Society Party (DTP) MPs relate to statements which were allegedly part of speeches the MPs made prior to their election to parliament. However, the DTP believe that as MPs they still benefit from parliamentary immunity for the alleged offences. Debate between parliament and the courts about how the immunity provisions in the constitution should be interpreted is ongoing and it is therefore unclear at present whether the trial will go ahead. No further legal developments are expected before the end of September 2009 but we will continue to follow this issue closely.

We remain concerned about freedom of expression in Turkey and continue to stress to the Turkish Government that whilst we condemn all acts of and support for terrorism, the non-violent expression of legitimate views should not be prosecuted. This is also highlighted in the European Commission's annual progress report of November 2008 as not being in line with the European Court of Human Rights case law. The point is likely to reappear in this year's report and will need to be addressed if Turkey is to make progress on EU accession.

In our contacts with the DTP we also stress that they need to distance themselves from violence if they are to take an active and constructive role in finding a solution to the Kurdish issue.