A Draft to Exempt MPs From Prosecution Before the End of Their Parliamentary Term

Asma Bahlouli / English version: Dalila Henache
The issue of withdrawing parliamentary immunity from MPs in the National People’s Assembly has sparked controversy again in the Zighoud Youcef building, after deputies in the lower chamber of Parliament proposed amending the text of Article 178 of the draft internal regulations of the assembly, by postponing the judicial prosecution of the people’s representative until the end of his/her parliamentary term, provided that the case of his/her prosecution was committed before he/she assumed office.

In their proposed amendments to the assembly’s bylaws, which are on the table for discussion, the MPs believe that parliamentary immunity is the best guarantee for the independence of the representative and allows him/her to exercise his/her duties comfortably, away from all possible pressures to which he/she may be exposed to, especially when it comes to work related to the exercise of his/her duties, which is affirmed in the constitutional Article 129.

In this context, MP Ahmed Charchare, who proposed the amendment, confirmed to Echorouk that “the absolute majority voting system, which is adopted on the most important issues and decisions, is the backbone of all democratic political systems. The National People’s Assembly and its MPs are of such particular importance that an absolute majority of its members shall decide to strip an MP of his membership in the assembly”.

The PNA’s deputy added that “the proposed wording of Article 178 following Article 129 of the Constitution stipulates that one of its members can be excluded if a final judicial ruling is issued against him/her, and “this report shall be presented in a closed public session by the rapporteur of the committee to vote on it by secret ballot and by an absolute majority of its members.”

The presentation of reasons by the MP stated that parliamentary immunity is a constitutional guarantee that was not decided for a member of Parliament as a person but rather was decided for the benefit of the parliamentary position, which is what Article 129 of the Constitution stipulates. A framework was set to define and frame this immunity under Articles 130 and 131 of the assembly’s internal regulations, in implementation of the principle that “no one is above the law.”

The proponents of the amendment also believe that candidates for the parliamentary elections are subject to prior supervision of the nomination process, based on which their files are accepted or not. Accordingly, they add, the prosecution of the MP judicially in cases before assuming his/her term is a circumvention and transgression of what was stated in the constitution and the organic law regulating the relationship between the two chambers of Parliament and a restriction of the principle of parliamentary immunity for MPs in such cases.

Accordingly, they stress the necessity of postponing the deputy’s judicial prosecution until the end of his/her parliamentary term, especially since the cases being pursued were committed before he/she assumed his/her position in Parliament.

The proposed wording for the amendment came in the text of Article 174: “Following the provisions of Article 130 of the Constitution, the representative may voluntarily waive his/her parliamentary immunity, in this case, the chairman of the assembly shall notify the relevant authorities of those acts committed before the MP assumed membership of the assembly, and the subject of judicial follow-up cannot be addressed on the issue of immunity”.
Source: https://www.echoroukonline.com/a-draft-to-exempt-mps-from-prosecution-before-the-end-of-their-parliamentary-term