Friday, July 07, 2006

Ms Merve Kavakçi

Ms Merve Kavakçi came to lunch today, with her daughter Miriam. I took up her case against the Turkish government, that she was denied the right to wear a headscarf in the Grand National Assembly when she was elected, and was then deprived of her Turkish citizenship, with the Inter-Parliamentary Union, whose latest resolution is given below.

Now, she is awaiting a decision of the European Court of Human Rights on her complaint, filed more than five years ago. If she wins, she will have gained the right for all Muslim women elected to Parliaments throughout Europe to wear the headscarf in their Parliament.

Resolution adopted by consensus by the Governing Council
at its 177th session (Geneva, 19th October 2005)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Ms. Merve Safa Kavakçi of Turkey, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/177/11(a)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 176th session (April 2005),

Taking account of a communication from the President of the Turkish National Group, dated 12 October 2005 and of a communication from Ms. Kavakçi dated 3 October 2005,

Recalling that Ms. Kavakçi was duly elected in the April 1999 elections on a Virtue Party ticket, but was prevented from taking her oath owing to the fact that she wore a headscarf at the swearing-in ceremony, that she was subsequently stripped of her Turkish nationality, that the parliamentary authorities therefore no longer considered her to be a member of the Turkish parliament, that her name was consequently struck off the parliamentary records, and that on 22 June 2001 the Constitutional Court dissolved the party to which she belonged and banned her from political activity for five years,

Recalling that on 28 May 2001 Ms. Kavakçi filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights invoking a violation of her rights under Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) and Article 6 paragraph 1 (right to fair and public hearing) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and Article 3 of Protocol 1 to the ECHR (guarantee of free and fair elections), and noting that in July 2005, the Court declared the case admissible,

Noting further that on 13 September 2005, the Court granted leave to the IPU to submit a third party intervention under Rule 44 (2) of the Court's Rules of Procedure and that the said intervention was submitted to the Court on 4 October 2005,

  1. Deeply regrets that the Turkish parliamentary authorities have not taken into account its repeated recommendations that the Turkish parliament provide redress to Ms. Kavakçi to remedy the injustice she suffered as a result of having worn a headscarf at the swearing-in ceremony of the parliamentarians elected in April 1999;

  2. Notes that the case is now pending before the European Court of Human Rights, whose rulings are binding upon Turkey; and decides to adjourn further examination of this case pending the Court's decision;

  3. Considers nevertheless that there is no legal obstacle for the Turkish parliament to provide redress to Ms. Kavakçi;

  4. Requests the Secretary General to inform the authorities and the sources accordingly;

  5. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held during the 114th IPU Assembly (May 2006).

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