Resolution adopted without a vote* by the Inter-Parliamentary Council
at its 162nd session (Windhoek, 11 April 1998)

The Inter-Parliamentary Council,

Having before it the case of Mr. Hassan Mezarci, a former member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, which has been the subject of a study and report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians in accordance with the " Procedure for the examination and treatment by the Inter-Parliamentary Union of communications concerning violations of human rights of parliamentarians ",

Taking note of the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/161/11(a)-R.1), which contains a detailed outline of the case,

Taking account of the letter from the President of the Turkish National Group dated 1 April 1998,

Also taking account of the observations supplied by the Turkish delegation at the hearing held on the occasion of the 99th Inter-Parliamentary Conference (April 1998),

Recalling that the case of Mr. Mezarci was first submitted to the Committee in March 1994 and that the information supplied at the time was the following: Mr. Mezarci was arrested upon leaving Parliament on 2 March 1994 after his parliamentary immunity had been lifted the same day; he was accused of having violated Articles 1 and 2 of Law 5816 by insulting Atatürk on the occasion of a panel discussion on human rights held on 4 June 1992 at the Bandirma Bird Festival; he had called for an investigation into the alleged extrajudicial killing of Ali Sükrü, a member of Parliament for Trabzond in the 1920s who, Mr. Mezarci claimed, was murdered on Atatürk's orders,

Recalling that the Committee decided to close the case when, on the occasion of the 93rd Inter-Parliamentary Conference (March/April 1995), it was informed by the then President of the Turkish National Group that the charges against Mr. Mezarci had been dropped,

Recalling that, contrary to this information, not only were the charges against Mr. Mezarci not dropped but they led to his sentencing to 18 months' imprisonment on 29 January 1996 by Bandirma Penal Court; that the Appeal Court upheld the judgment; that Mr. Mezarci is currently serving his sentence,

Considering that, in his letter of 5 January 1998, the President of the Turkish National Group stated that various judicial proceedings on charges of insulting the memory of Atatürk were under way against Mr. Mezarci, namely case N° 1996/588 before Ankara 8th Criminal Court, case N° 1996/575 before Ankara 20th Criminal Court and case N° 1996/570 before Ankara 5th Criminal Court,

Considering that, according to the same letter, as regards his trial on charges of insulting and defaming the Turkish armed forces in statements he had made in the weekly " Tempo " on 10 February 1993 and in the daily newspaper " Yeni Asya " on 24 January 1993, he was acquitted; that on the other hand, as regards his trial on charges of insulting and defaming the Turkish Parliament in a statement he had made on 20 March 1992 in the " Sabah " newspaper, he was sentenced to 10 months' imprisonment under Articles 159(1) and 159(2) of the Penal Code; that an appeal is pending,

Considering that, according to the indictment, he stated the following: " This Constitution and this Assembly will not resolve any of the country's problems and it will lead to another military coup. The solution is the Sharia system. I cannot sit in this Assembly. I am disgusted with it "; that at the court hearing on 19 March 1997, Mr. Mezarci reportedly said " I described Sharia as a belief, not as a State form. (...) It is my constitutional right to inform people of my Assembly activities. I have spoken more openly in the Assembly than in newspaper reports where I have been quoted. ",

Recalling the assertions of the Turkish delegation at the 97th and 98th Inter-Parliamentary Conferences that the Turkish Government was making every effort to bring Turkish legislation into line with European human rights standards, especially as regards the right to freedom of speech, and that a number of laws have been adopted to this end, in particular the amnesty law of 14 August 1997,

Bearing in mind the interpretation given by the European Court of Human Rights to freedom of expression, namely that " freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of (such) democratic society, one of the basic conditions for its progress and for the development of every man. Subject to Article 10 (2), it is applicable not only to "information" or "ideas" that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population. Such are the demands of that pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness without which there is no democratic society " (Handyside v. UK, September 1976),

  1. Thanks the President of the Turkish National Group for the information he provided;
  2. Also thanks the Turkish delegation for the observations it supplied;
  3. Considers that in making the statement which, on 29 January 1996, led to his sentencing to 18 months' imprisonment, Mr. Mezarci was simply exercising his right to freedom of speech, guaranteed under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Turkey is a party;
  4. Likewise considers that the statement published in the " Saba " newspaper on 20 March 1992 lies within the bounds of his freedom of speech, and notes that an appeal is pending;
  5. Would appreciate detailed information on the other judicial proceedings apparently still under way against him;
  6. Calls once again on the Turkish authorities to release Mr. Mezarci, particularly in the light of the stated efforts of the Turkish Government to bring its legislation into line with European human rights standards, including a broader interpretation of freedom of speech;
  7. Requests the Secretary General to convey this decision to the President of the Turkish National Group inviting him to provide the desired information;
  8. Requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to continue examining the case and report to it at its next session (September 1998).

* The Turkish delegation expressed reservations about the resolution adopted by the Inter-Parliamentary Council.
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