This expert opinion has been prepared and submitted by ARTICLE 19 and Human Rights Watch to advise on the compatibility with European human rights law and standards of the removal of Turkey’s MP Selahattin Demirtaş’ parliamentary immunity; his arrest; and pre-trial detention. The submission was accepted for the hearing of Turkey V Selahattin Demirtaş before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights on 18 March 2019. The hearing is scheduled for 18 September 2019.
In this opinion we argue that the imposition of a measure of pre-trial detention on an opposition politician engages protection also under Article 10 of the Convention, in addition to Article 3 of Protocol No.1 as the Chamber of the Court found in November.
Demirtaş’ detention is based on political speech. It forms part of a pattern of arbitrary detentions and does not constitute detention on “reasonable suspicion” of having committed and offence, and is incompatible with Article 5 (1) and Article 10.
Given the lack of basis for Demirtaş’ detention and prosecution and the negative impact on his freedom of expression, in particular his political expression, and in light of the hostile post-coup climate in Turkey, ARTICLE 19 and Human Rights Watch believe that the prosecutions at hand have been brought with the ulterior motive of silencing political opposition in Turkey, and as such also violate Article 18 in conjunction with Article 10 of the Convention and Article 3 of Protocol No.1, as well as in conjunction with Article 5 (1) and (3).
We invite the Court to apply the strictest scrutiny to the measures taken against the applicant. The lifting of parliamentary immunity in the current context and the detentions and prosecutions subsequently arising from this disapplication of immunity, violate Article 5 (1) and (3), Article 10 and Article 18 of the Convention as well as Article 3 of Protocol No. 1.