Statement regarding the situation of media freedom in Turkey
Following the specific request of the delegates at the Annual Meeting held in Bucharest on 18-19 May 2017 asking for a strong position of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the Steering Committee issued the following statement regarding the situation of media freedom in Turkey :
The EFJ, fighting in cooperation with the IFJ and all its affiliates, welcomes the “send a postcard to jailed journalists in Turkey campaign” in the framework of its #JournalismisNOTacrime / #Gazeteciliksuçdegildir project inviting everyone to send written moral support to journalists and media workers in jail. 165 journalists are still in jail according to the regularly updated database (https://europeanjournalists.org/turkey-journalists-in-jail/) and the EFJ Steering Committee thanks all affiliates for their positive moral support and involvement shown in this campaign.
The EFJ shares the concerns expressed by the United Nations Special Rapporteur, David Kaye, in his latest report on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression on his mission to Turkey. The report shows the scale of arrest and detention of journalists, the number of media shutdowns and the revocation of press-cards. The Special Rapporteur expressed grave concern that several laws – in particular the Anti-Terrorism Law, the Emergency Decrees, the criminalization of defamation of the President, and internet regulations – were imposing unnecessary and disproportionate attacks on freedom of expression, even in the context of a state of emergency. The laws have been used to launch unjustified attacks against journalists, unionists, judges, lawyers, academics, artists and human rights activists.
The EFJ backs the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks’ position a detailed Memorandum on freedom of expression and media freedom in Turkey of 15 February 2017, that “the overly wide application of the concept of terrorist propaganda and support of a terrorist organisation, including to statements and persons that clearly do not incite violence, reflects a mistaken belief that restricting freedom of expression in violation of international human rights norms will help solve these problems. Violence and the threat to use violence is the defining component of the concept of “terrorism”, which must not be used as a catch-all label to punish statements that do not contain these elements, even when these statements are non-consensual, shocking or politically embarrassing”.
The EFJ fully backs FNSI General Secretary’s Raffaele Lorusso court case mission on 19 June 2017 to Istanbul to monitor the first trial against journalists accused of participating in the failed coup of July 2016. The trial, which may shed light on how the courts will approach numerous cases concerning the right to freedom of expression and the right to a fair trial under the state of emergency, has amplified international concerns over press freedom in Turkey.
The EFJ recalls the joint statement by journalists, judges, lawyers on the ongoing crackdown on the rule of law in Turkey where the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), and the European Association of Judges (EAJ) firmly condemn the ongoing widespread persecution of lawyers, journalists, judges and prosecutors in Turkey.
The EFJ supports the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) decision (25/04/2017) to re-open the monitoring procedure on the functioning of democratic institutions in Turkey and recalling in particular its Resolution 2121 (2016) on the functioning of democratic institutions in Turkey, and Resolution 2141 (2017) on attacks against journalists and media freedom in Europe.
The EFJ reminds the repetitive calls from Dunja Mijatović, the former OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, condemning arrests of journalists and calling to decriminalize journalistic work in Turkey.
The EFJ strongly calls for the lifting of the state of emergency and the immediate release of all journalists and media workers in Turkey, to end online censorship and respect public’s right to have access to information.
The EFJ, in cooperation with its affiliates in Turkey (TGC, TGS, Disk Basin-Is), will continue to support our jailed colleagues by monitoring individuals cases and assisting affiliates in showing support for jailed colleagues in Turkey and for all those facing harassment and persecution by the authorities for just doing their jobs.
The EFJ is calling the European Union institutions to ensure that human rights and media freedom issues in Turkey are key components for any agreement or upgraded agreement for future collaboration and guarantee that civil society organisations, including journalists’ organisations, in Turkey are supported in ways protecting their independence.
Photo Credit : Ozan KÖSE / AFP