Parliamentary Immunity

Parliamentary Immunity: Protecting Democracy or Protecting Corruption? Journal of Political Philosophy 11(1): 23 – 40 · 2003 [full text]

Abstract: A recurring question within contemporary democratic countries relates  to  whether parliamentary immunity only serves to protect the interests of representatives, rather than the interests of those they were elected to represent. In this paper I seek to explore this issue by comparing two stylized models of  parliamentary  immunity:  One which only bars the legal questioning of the immediate legislative agency of representatives (Legislative Agency Model), and another which, in addition, requires the consent of the representative assembly before the non-legislative agency of representatives  can  be  legally  questioned (Authorization Model). I argue that the Legislative Agency Model fails to adequately  protect  the  representative  assembly  from  outside  interference and displaces  the  supervisory  role  of  the  citizenry.  In contrast the  Authorization Model, if formulated correctly, requires civic involvement and provides  a sufficient  basis  for  both  protecting  the  assembly and containing  political corruption.

‘Parliamentary Immunity in Democratizing Countries: The Case of Turkey,’ Human Rights Quarterly 31(3):  567-591 · 2009  [full text]

Abstract: This article examines the effect that shielding elected representatives from criminal law might have in those countries that are undergoing democratization. Parliamentary immunity helps to compensate for any shortfall in the human rights enjoyed by ordinary citizens and provides elected representatives with the protection necessary to rectify that shortfall. However, the immunity may also protect subversive advocacy, rights violations and political corruption. Turkey provides an illuminating case study of those challenges to parliamentary immunity. Drawing on the Turkish experience it is argued that methods other than exposing parliamentarians to criminal prosecution should be used to tackle those problems.

‘Democracy and the Politics of Parliamentary Immunity in Turkey,’ New Perspectives on Turkey no. 33: 121-143 ·  2005 (with Gürcan Koçan) [full text]

Abstract: In Turkey there is currently a widespread public desire to narrow the extent to which parliamentarians are immune from the law. That desire is largely motivated by the perception that political corruption is widespread and that parliamentary immunity only serves to obstruct the fight against it. As a result, a number of political parties have based their electoral platforms on the promise to limit the scope of parliamentary immunity once in office. As of yet, none have carried through their promise and this has only served to reinforce the public view that parliamentarians see their immunity as a personal privilege. Irrespective of the merits of that charge, there is a genuine concern that confronts Turkish deputies, which means that they will be less likely to limit the immunity once elected. Their concern is that current law does not adequately protect civil and political liberties and that the judiciary is not yet sufficiently evenhanded in its treatment of political cases. In effect, the fight against political corruption has been frustrated in part because of the risk to free speech that exposure to the law might entail.