Urgent Appeal for the Release of Can Atalay, Elected Lawmaker, in Compliance with Constitutional Rights
Can Atalay, an elected lawmaker from the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP), who is currently incarcerated in spite of the decisions made by the Court of Cassation and the Constitutional Court.
Can Atalay was arrested on April 25, 2022, following his sentencing to 18 years in prison in the Gezi trial. However, despite being elected as a lawmaker on May 14, he remains detained while awaiting the outcome of his application for release, which his lawyers have filed with the Court of Cassation and the Constitutional Court.
It is important to note that Article 83 of the Constitution grants legislative immunity to parliamentarians, stating that the execution of a criminal judgment against a member of Parliament, either before or after their election, shall be deferred until the end of their membership. Furthermore, the statute of limitations does not run during their membership. Atalay’s case falls within the purview of this constitutional provision, as there is no finalized verdict against him.
According to the information available, Can Atalay was convicted under Article 312 of the Turkish Penal Code for “aiding the attempt to overthrow the government” during the Gezi Park Protests trial. Although an appeals court upheld this verdict, the Court of Cassation has yet to reach a decision on the case. Therefore, no final judgment has been rendered against Atalay.
Under Article 83 of the Constitution, the only obstacle preventing a person elected as an MP from gaining legislative immunity is if they have been convicted of crimes mentioned in Article 14, which aim to violate the indivisible integrity of the State with its territory and nation, and to endanger the existence of the democratic and secular order of the Republic based on human rights.
As advocates for human rights and defenders of justice, we earnestly request the immediate release of Can Atalay in adherence to the principles enshrined in the Turkish Constitution. It is crucial that his constitutional rights, including his legislative immunity, are respected and upheld, allowing him to fulfil his duties as an elected representative.
We firmly believe that the release of Can Atalay from incarceration would serve as a testament to the commitment of the Turkish judiciary to safeguarding the rule of law, protecting constitutional rights, and ensuring a fair and just legal system.
As advocates for human rights and defenders of justice, we Rights Defenders firmly stand by the principles of freedom, fairness, and equality. We believe that every individual, regardless of their political affiliations, deserves access to fundamental rights and liberties, including the right to a fair trial, the presumption of innocence, and the right to serve their elected position without undue hindrance.
In the case of Can Atalay, we urge the authorities to ensure that his constitutional rights are fully respected, granting him the opportunity to fulfil his duties as a lawmaker and represent his constituents. Upholding the principles of justice and safeguarding the rule of law is not only crucial for the well-being of individuals like Can Atalay but also for the preservation of a strong and democratic society.
We appeal to the judiciary and all relevant authorities to prioritize the principles of justice, fairness, and human rights, and to take prompt action to secure the release of Can Atalay. By doing so, we can work towards building a society that upholds the values of freedom, equality, and the rule of law for all its citizens.
Together, as right defenders, we request that Can Atalay be freed from jail and be given the opportunity to fulfil his elected responsibilities without further delay.