The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has expressed its opposition to the “implicit amnesty” regulation submitted to the Parliament by the AKP and approved by the Planning and Budget Committee. The HDP stated that excluding political prisoners from the scope of the regulation is “discrimination” and declared that it is “contrary to the constitution.”
According to the article included in the legislative proposal approved by the Turkish Grand National Assembly’s Planning and Budget Committee, convicts who have five years or less remaining on their sentence while on COVID-19 leave will not return to prison and will serve the remaining period under “probation.”
The HDP’s Commission on Law and Human Rights issued a statement regarding the regulation known as the “implicit amnesty,” which aims to allow prisoners to be released three years earlier and be placed under probation. In their statement, the HDP argued that the proposal is legally and substantively unlawful. They emphasized that the amendment is of a special amnesty nature because it aims to reduce prison overcrowding and would lead to the release of many convicts. Therefore, both this specific article and the entire omnibus law that contains it must be voted on and approved by a three-fifths majority in accordance with Article 92 of the Parliament’s Bylaws. However, the ruling party has not followed this method in any of the previous omnibus laws that included criminal execution amendments. Therefore, the HDP argues that both the introduction of this special amnesty regulation to the Parliament and its approval through this method are unconstitutional.
The statement reported by Gazete Duvar highlighted that “political prisoners” are excluded, and while criminal convicts can benefit from the amendments for early release, “political prisoners” cannot. The HDP stated that the content of the proposal is also contrary to the prohibition of discrimination and the principle of equality according to the constitution.
The HDP’s statement further emphasized that similar amendments were made in 2020 using the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext, where the execution period for criminal convicts was reduced from two-thirds to one-half, while no changes were made for political prisoners, maintaining the 4/3 ratio. They also mentioned that the probation period for criminal offenses was three years, while it was one year for political trials, and today, even that right has been taken away from political prisoners through the decisions of administrative and observation boards.
The HDP argued that the ruling party excludes political prisoners as if they were enemies in all amendments made in their favor. They stated that this double standard among convicts is not only legally but also ethically and morally unacceptable. Particularly in Turkey, due to the vagueness of the definition of “terrorism” in legislation and the decisions made in political trials, the country is frequently convicted by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding many rights, including the right to a fair trial. In a country where freedom of organization, expression, and the press are disregarded, where politicians, journalists, lawyers, human rights defenders, and the entire opposition are tried, punished, and imprisoned, this proposed law is unfair due to the medieval understanding of law turning into an instrument of revenge.
The HDP called for the application of the conditions for conditional release, placement in open prisons, and probation that would be applied to criminal convicts to also be applied to political prisoners in all execution amendments. They stated that they advocate for equality in the execution system, oppose discrimination and hostility, and categorically reject this amendment as it is contrary to the constitution. They called on the Parliament to take a stand against this discriminatory and criminal political understanding.