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Cyprus

MPs ‘racing’ to pass parliamentary immunity bill

MPs will “race against time” to have the bill to amend legislation concerning their parliamentary immunity passed before the dissolution of the legislative body ahead of the elections, member of the House Legal Affairs DISY deputy Rikkos Mappourides committee said on Friday.

The bill, which was approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday, is to reach the committee next week.

“The aim is to have it voted by the plenum before the dissolution of parliament, so we will have extra meetings to give time to all parties to make their comments and proposals so that by March 16, to have a vote within the committee,” Mappourides told the Cyprus Mail.

He added that in the case of an amendment to the Constitution, two thirds of the legislative body needed to be on board.

The goal is to have the bill tabled before the plenum on March 24.

According to the amended legislation approved by the Cabinet, article 83 of the Constitution is to be revised to read: “Representatives shall not be liable for civil or criminal prosecution in respect of any statement made or vote given by them during the performance of their parliamentary duties. As regards the remainder “representatives will be subject to criminal and civil liability under applicable laws as any other citizen.”

The bill, which was amended in cooperation with the attorney-general’s office, “aims to define the limits and scope of parliamentary immunity in a modern State of Law, without compromising the inalienable right of expression or freedom of voting in the performance of parliamentary duties”.

Mappourides said that the text as approved by the Cabinet needs improvements.

In February the Supreme Court lifted the immunity of DISY MP Andreas Themistokleous after it emerged that he had committed a number of traffic violations. Not bringing an alleged repeat offender before a court “would have dealt a blow to the principle of equality and the rule of law”, the AG said.

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