With only one vote against, the Legal Affairs Council of the Council of States stated on Wednesday that it would waive the immunity of the former National Council member Christian Miesch (please). Thus the Federal Public Prosecutor would be able to make the accusations against him. to clarify ordinary criminal procedures. This decision is to be welcomed.
Because the allegations against Miesch weigh heavily. It is not about a possibly libelous or racist expression of a parliamentarian. It concerns the presumption of acceptance of benefits and passive bribery – ie classic corruption offenses. In essence, Miesch is accused of being compensated by the former lobbyist of Kazakhstan, Thomas Borer, for an interpellation he submitted in 2014 for the interests of Kazakhstan. That a payment has been made is undisputed. On the other hand, their goal is refused. The presumption of innocence also applies to Miesch. In the opinion of the federal prosecutor's office, however, there is "sufficient suspicion" to open a criminal investigation.
The fact that parliamentarians in principle enjoy immunity in activities directly related to their duties is part of the protection of the institutions. Elected representatives of the people must be able to perform their duties without fear of arbitrary, even politically motivated, criminal proceedings. Of course, this privilege is not a free pass for the elected officials – on the contrary: it is mandatory. Not only the mandate holders themselves, but also the committees, who, at the request of the federal prosecutor's office, have to decide in individual cases about waiving immunity. In doing so, they must carefully weigh up the institutional importance of proper functioning of the Council and the fundamental constitutional interest in prosecution.
In the present case, however, there is not only a constitutional but also an eminent institutional interest in waiving immunity and thus in a final legal clarification. The mere presumption of corruption by members of the Council can damage trust in democratic institutions. If parliamentarians then hand over their protective hand to a colleague who is suspected of corruption, then they will in turn prove a bad service to the institution of parliament.
The decision of the immunity committee of the national council remains incomprehensible against this background. In June she had argued for the cancellation of Miesch's immunity by five or three votes – with more than doubtful justification. For example, the SVP-FDP majority had given the unjustified content of the behavior of the old national council Miesch the size of the amount of 4635 francs and because it was "only" an interpellation, without merit being judged as "deep". This is not just presumptuous for a legislative authority. Unfortunately, it also established the acceptable purchase price of an interpellation. Because of the difference with the sister committee, she now has the opportunity to reconsider her own decision. If she does not, she must be accused of having tried to protect the parliament's institution, to harm it and to violate the rule of law.