Turkey’s Court of Cassation on Feb. 19 upheld the two-and-a-half-year prison sentence given to Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a human rights activist and MP belonging to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), on charges of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization.” In 2016, Gergerlioğlu raised alarm in parliament and on social media platforms about detained women being subjected to unlawful strip searches by police in the city of Uşak for “security reasons.” He was later accused by the Uşak Police and several members of the ruling Justice & Development Party (AKP) of being involved in terrorist activities. Gergerlioğlu was initially sentenced by the Kocaeli 2nd High Criminal Court in February 2018, and the decision was affirmed on appeal by the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice. Following this, an appeal was made to the Court of Cassation.
Gergerlioğlu argued that MPs receive immunity from arbitrary and unfounded criminal prosecutions and arrests under provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Turkish Constitution. The court ruled that the investigation against Gergerlioğlu began before he was elected as a deputy in 2018, and as a result immunity from prosecution cannot be afforded in the current case.
Several human rights organizations and civil society groups, including the International Observatory of Human Rights, wrote to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to express concerns about Gergerlioğlu’s treatment. Noting that he had received personal threats after the charges were made against him, they called upon the authorities “to investigate and stop all threats directed by public officials, politicians and prosecutors at Mr. Gergerlioğlu and other human rights defenders.”
From Jurist, Feb. 21. Used with permission.
Note: The case hinged on social media posts by Gergerlioğlu that supposedly included photos of armed fighters from the PKK guerillas. (BIANet)
Photo: Wikimedia Commons