United States Concerned by Turkish Parliament's Vote on Constitutional Amendment

Press Statement
Mark C. Toner
Deputy Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
May 20, 2016

The United States is concerned that the Turkish parliament’s adoption today of a constitutional amendment, which would lift the parliamentary immunity of more than 100 members of parliament, will have a chilling effect on freedom of speech across Turkey. We understand the legislation will next be referred to Turkey’s president.

A common tenet in democratic societies is equality before the law. However, we firmly believe that the freedom to engage in political speech – even speech which many find controversial or uncomfortable – should and must be protected for everyone. This is especially important when it involves speech by elected representatives of a country’s citizens.

We are closely monitoring developments regarding this prospective legal change. If this change results in a narrowing of space for political debate, it will erode the quality of Turkey’s democracy.