The Turkish government continues to oppress journalists through the use of archaic terrorism laws according to a report published by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) this week.
The report indicates that the country is currently holding more journalists in prison than any other nation in the world, with 76 media professionals in jail and at least 61 of those being held directly as a result of their work.
Highlighting the “Dark Days of Jailing Journalists and Criminalising Dissent,” CPJ asserts:
Turkish authorities are engaging in widespread criminal prosecution and jailing of journalists, and are applying other forms of severe pressure to promote self-censorship in the press. CPJ has found highly repressive laws, particularly in the penal code and anti-terror law; a criminal procedure code that greatly favors the state; and a harsh anti-press tone set at the highest levels of government. Turkey’s press freedom situation has reached a crisis point.”
The report explains that around 70% of the journalists being held in Turkey have been charged with aiding terrorism as a result of work covering the activities of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) or the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK).
"Articles in the penal code give authorities wide berth to use journalists' professional work to link them to banned political movements or alleged plots," continues the report.
"Some of the most frequently used articles criminalise basic news-gathering activities, such as talking to security officials or obtaining documents."
And some 75% of those involved have not yet been convicted, but are waiting for their cases to be resolved
"The Turkish government is engaging in a broad offensive to silence critical journalists through imprisonment, legal prosecution and official intimidation," notes the report.
Executive director of CPJ, Joel Simon said: "Turkey's tendency to equate critical journalism with terrorism is not justified by the country's security concerns.”
"Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan should cease his attacks on the press and instead provide justice for journalists while pursuing reforms that guarantee freedom of expression," he added.
DCMF condemns violation of press freedom
Doha Centre for Media Freedom (DCMF) issued a statement urging the Turksish government to cease their efforts to control journalists.
Doha Centre for Media Freedom strongly condemns the Turkish government’s continued oppression of the media, highlighted in this latest report by CPJ. Journalists should not be targeted for their work by the authorities, who should instead be working to ensure that press freedom can flourish in Turkey.
The current number of journalists in detention in Turkey surpasses the figure for other countries which are generally regarded as much more oppressive. Charges of terrorism and similar offences must not be leveled at journalists arbitrarily and DCMF is calling on the Turkish authorities to act responsibly and free journalists who are guilty of nothing more than covering the news.
We welcome earlier amendments to the country’s press laws, but the archaic terrorism laws still allow the government strong control over journalists. President Erdogan has led Turkey through a critical period for the press, and his actions have led to an increase in self-censorship and a climate of fear pervading the media.
DCMF strongly calls for action to be taken to reverse this trend and to ensure that journalists are left to carry out their work independently and freely.
DCMF has reported on the paradox between the introduction of a new press law which grants journalists more freedom of expression and the fact that the authorities continue to detain journalists using archaic laws to keep them imprisoned.
Source: DCMF, CPJ