Inter-Parliamentary Union  
Chemin du Pommier 5, C.P. 330, CH-1218 Le Grand-Saconnex/Geneva, Switzerland  



Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 194th session
(Geneva, 20 March 2014)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the cases of the above-mentioned parliamentarians and to the resolutions adopted at its 190th session (April 2012), in the case of Mr. Sinçar, and at its 193rd session (October 2013), in the case of the other parliamentarians,

Recalling thatMr. Mehmet Sinçar, a former member of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, of Kurdish origin, was assassinated in September 1993 in Batman (south-eastern Turkey),

Recalling that the nine other parliamentarians above were all elected in June 2011 while in prison and are being tried for destabilizing or overthrowing the constitutional order, including by being members of terrorist organizations, in three complex cases known as the “Sledgehammer/Balyoz case”, the “Ergenekon case” and the “KCK case”,

Recalling the serious concerns raised by the sources with respect to the nine cases about the length of the proceedings, the length of pretrial detention, the lack of evidence to support the judicial decisions to keep elected members of parliament in pretrial detention, serious violations of the rights of the defence and other procedural flaws; further recalling the sources’ affirmation that some of the evidence against the accused had been fabricated by the investigators, that most of the accused had been detained on the basis of unsigned anonymous letters and the tampering of their personal computers, that the prosecution had relied largely on the testimony of secret witnesses during the trials that took place before “specially-authorized courts”, which have since been abolished, that all the accused were known to be in opposition to the present Government, that the Government fully controlled the Supreme Board for Judges and Prosecutors, which was in charge of the judicial system, and that there had been direct political interference in the cases,

Further recalling that the parliamentary authorities stated that all the proceedings were extremely complex and involved a large number of defendants and events that took place over a significant period of time, that the judiciary did its utmost to respect all standards of due process and conducted the proceedings in a transparent manner, but that the proceedings may have been marred by a number of minor procedural flaws owing to the complexity of the cases,

Considering that there are petitions for appeal and judicial and constitutional review pending before the Turkish courts in all nine cases, as well as petitions to the European Court of Human Rights,

Taking into account that a delegation of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians conducted an on-site mission to Turkey on 24-27 February 2014; its full mission report will be presented to the Governing Council at its next session (October 2014), after being shared with all parties for their observations; the delegation wishes to share the following preliminary observations on its mission:

  • The delegation was pleased to be able to meet with the competent legislative, judicial and executive authorities, in particular with the Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the Minister of Justice, the presidents of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court and the chairpersons of the parliamentary justice and human rights inquiry committees; the delegation also met seven of the members of parliament concerned, including Mr. Alan, whom the delegation was able to visit at Sinçan Prison (Ankara);

  • The delegation has been able to confirm that eight of the members of parliament were granted provisional release and are now able to exercise their parliamentary mandate. The delegation remains concerned at the restrictions imposed on Mr. Balbay and Mr. Haberal, who are not authorized to travel abroad. It is, however, gratified that its concerns regarding the excessive length of pretrial detention and the rights of elected parliamentarians to sit in parliament have been taken into account by the Constitutional Court and that the court has resolved this situation by delivering unprecedented decisions in Turkey on these issues, in line with international and European human rights standards. It expects that the Constitutional Court will rule promptly on the application of Mr. Alan, the only member of parliament still in detention;

  • The delegation has taken note of the contradictory positions expressed by the authorities and the members of parliament concerned, their lawyers and political parties regarding respect for freedom of expression of the members of parliament concerned. On the one hand, the authorities consistently stated that none of the members of parliament had been charged in relation to freedom of expression, that the charges were related to alleged membership of “terrorist organizations” and “attempted military coups”, and that all alleged criminal activities had been carried out before they were elected as members of parliament and had nothing to do with the exercise of their parliamentary mandate or their status as parliamentarians. On the other hand, the members of parliament concerned, their lawyers and political parties all asserted that the parliamentarians had been charged under the Criminal Code and the anti-terrorism laws for peaceful and legal activities undertaken before their elections in the normal course of their respective professions as politicians, journalists or doctors. They stated that the facts and evidence adduced in support of the criminal charges included organizing or participating in protests, sit-ins, distributing leaflets or holding press conferences, expressing dissent and criticism of the Government’s policies, including with respect to the peace process in the south-eastern part of Turkey, and the defence of the rights of Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin in the KCK case. They further stated that the authenticity and integrity of the evidence supporting the charges had been strongly called into question. Fabrication and alteration of digital evidence, illegal telephone intercepts, use of secret prosecution witnesses and limited cross-examination by defence lawyers were just a few examples of the many serious issues raised as to concerns of lack of fair trial in the Ergenekon, Sledgehammer and KCK proceedings. The delegation was provided with extensive documentation on these issues, which will be reviewed and assessed in its final mission report;

  • In response to the statements made by the authorities that the persons concerned were not members of parliament at the time of the alleged offences as they predate their election, the delegation is of the opinion that it does not rule out the possibility that their fundamental right to freedom of expression was violated and that the charges have effectively restricted their ability to fulfil their parliamentary mandate and to express themselves freely once elected;

  • The delegation was further deeply concerned about the climate of fear prevailing among opposition members, civil society organizations, lawyers, journalists and persons of Kurdish origin in Turkey at the time of its mission, owing to a rising number of criminal charges brought against dissenting opinions, restrictions on the Internet, extensive telephone tapping, increasing powers being provided to the intelligence services, a wave of adoption of new laws that appear to be restricting freedoms and the independence of the judiciary;

  • The delegation was disappointed to learn that the Constitutional Conciliation Commission had been dissolved after it failed to reach a consensus on a new Constitution, leaving many issues unresolved, including with respect to the protection of the fundamental rights of parliamentarians to freedom of expression and to freedom of association;

  • The delegation was nevertheless pleased to learn from the Minister of Justice that significant legislative reforms had been undertaken to tackle shortcomings in the functioning of the judicial system, inter alia to reduce the excessive length of pretrial detention from ten to five years and to introduce judicial control as an alternative to detention. The Minister of Justice further stated that measures had also been taken concerning freedom of expression as part of the third and fourth judicial packages adopted in 2012 and 2013 and stated his commitment to continuing to attempt corrective measures. Furthermore, he acknowledged that there were outstanding issues needing to be resolved in the cases of the members of parliament concerned. He affirmed that efforts were ongoing to that end, both through legislative reform (with the recent abolition of “specially-authorized courts”, which is expected to pave the way for retrials in the Sledgehammer and Ergenekon cases), and through outstanding judicial appeals and constitutional review applications lodged before Turkish courts in the cases of the members of parliament concerned;

  • The President of the Constitutional Court confirmed to the delegation that the court was seized of the applications from the members of parliament concerned, was competent to rule on violations of fundamental human rights, in line with the Constitution and international human rights instruments, and was empowered to annul proceedings and either dismiss them or order retrials should it find such serious violations;

  • The delegation considers that, in the light of the ongoing efforts undertaken by the Turkish authorities to address concerns related to violations of due process and fair trial guarantees, the existence of significant shortcomings in these complex multi-defendant trials such as Sledgehammer, Ergenekon and KCK are not disputed. It hopes that, in regard to the cases of the parliamentarians under examination, all serious shortcomings will be duly acknowledged and promptly remedied through the appropriate channels, in line with international and European human rights standards, with special reference to their fundamental rights to a fair trial and to freedom of expression and association;

  • With respect to the case of Mr. Sinçar, the delegation was informed by the Supreme Court that the appeal ruling was delivered in January 2011 and confirmed the first-instance verdict, sentencing about 20 persons for their involvement in terrorist activities on behalf of the PKK and the "Hezbollah" terrorist organizations in southern Turkey, including for the murder of Mr. Sinçar. Copies of the first-instance and appeal decisions were handed over to the delegation,
  1. Thanks the Turkish authorities for their cooperation and assistance;

  2. Takes note of the preliminary observations of the Committee on the mission and eagerly awaits the final mission report at the next IPU Assembly (October 2014);

  3. Notes with satisfaction that all parliamentarians, except Mr. Alan, were released and sworn in to parliament following the decisions of the Constitutional Court; expects that the Constitutional Court will rule promptly on Mr. Alan’s application and hopes that the restrictions on the freedom of movement of Mr. Balbay and Mr. Haberal will be lifted;

  4. Notes with interest that the Turkish authorities have acknowledged that there are outstanding issues needing to be resolved in the cases of the members of parliament concerned and that efforts are ongoing to address these concerns, through both judicial proceedings and legislative reform; trusts that they will take all appropriate measures to uphold the fundamental rights of the parliamentarians concerned in line with international and European human rights standards, in particular regarding their fundamental rights to a fair trial and to freedom of expression and association;

  5. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the parliamentary authorities, the sources and any third party likely to be in a position to supply relevant information;

  6. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and to report back to it in due course.

Note: you can download a complete electronic version of the brochure "Results of the 130th Assembly and related meetings of the Inter-Parliamentary Union" in PDF format (file size 878 Kb). This version requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, which you can download free of charge.Get Acrobat Reader