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14.02.2019

Resolution on ineffective legal remedy for Turkey's journalists

The lack of visible improvements in freedom of the media in Turkey since the state of emergency was lifted on 18 July 2018 is of great concern. The mass arrests, detention and sentencing of Turkey’s journalists continue to be used as methods to stifle dissenting voices across society. 

IPI Roundtable Brussels IPI led a roundtable with Rebecca Harms (MEP) on press freedom in Turkey at the European Parliament in January 2019 (Photo: IPI)

 

According to figures from the International Press Institute (IPI), 155 journalists and media executives were in prison as of 29. January 2019. This makes Turkey the country with the highest number of imprisoned journalists in the world.

Points of concern to the signatories of this resolution are:

  • the lack of independence and impartiality of the judiciary in Turkey;
  • the lack of a speedy recourse to justice both domestically and before the European Court of Human Rights;
  • the practice of criminalising journalism by committing journalists to lengthy pretrial detention;
  • the slow production of indictments in journalist cases and the use of journalistic material as evidence to convict journalists
  • the failure of the public prosecutors to exhaustively prove the legal criteria in place to establish the charge of ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’ in the case of journalists.

RECOMMENDATIONS

To the government of Turkey:

1. Turkey must fulfıl it obligations to journalists under national and international law to protect their rights:

  • to liberty and security;
  • to freedom of expression;
  • to the right to receive and disseminate the news; and
  • to a fair trial including:
    • the presumption of innocence;  
    • the right to appear physically before a judge in a timely manner; and
    • the right to receive a fair hearing within a reasonable timeframe, conducted by an independent and impartial judicial panel.

2. The judiciary in Turkey must require public prosecutors to produce indictments in a timely manner, especially in cases where the defendant is held in pretrial detention. Evidence in indictments against journalists must be required to be sufficient to prove evidence beyond reasonable doubt of criminal activity.

3. Turkey must release all journalists being held in pretrial detention with journalistic evidence cited as proof of criminal activity. 

4. All journalists imprisoned on unsubstantiated allegatoins or as a reulst of the practice of journalism should be immediately freed.

5. The Turkish judiciary should take all steps to fulfil their obligations to ensure that rulings in freedom of expression cases are in line with decisions by the European Court of Human Rights and relevant international standards, especially as regards the right to personal freedom and the right to a fair trial.

6. In order to restore the plurality of voices and alternative news sources for its people, Turkey must ensure the protection of journalists’ right to freedom of expression, their right to engage in critical, well-founded reporting in the public interest, as well as their right to disseminate the news.

7. The Public Advertising Authority (Basın İlan Kurumu) must ensure that public advertising revenue is shared out, in accordance to its own guidelines, among pro-government and independent media alike, and must not deprive the few remaining independent printed daily newspapers in Turkey of much needed state advertising revenue.

8. Turkey must fulfil its responsibility to provide journalists with the personal security to which they are entitled under the constitution, and allow them to carry out their work without fear of arbitrary arrest or detention; it must condemn any threat to their safety verbalised in public by officers of the state or private persons.

9. The Reform Action Group formed of ministers of state in Turkey is invited to act upon these recommendations as it undertakes the impending reform of Turkey’s judiciary.

To regional actors:

10. European institutions and decision makers should reinforce these recommendations in their discussions with Turkish ministers in 2019.


Signed:

Ana Gomes, S&D

Ana Miranda, Greens/EFA

Angela Rosa Vallina de la Noval, GUE/NGL

Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, EPP

Anne-Marie Mineur, GUE/NGL

Antanas Guoga, EPP

António Marinho e Pinto, ALDE

Barbara Lochbihler, Greens/EFA

Barbara Spinelli, GUE/NGL

Benedek Javor, Greens/EFA

Boris Zala, S&D

Brando Benifei, S&D

Carolina Punset, ALDE

Costas Mavrides, S&D

David Martin, S&D

Dennis de Jong, GUE/NGL

Dimitrios Papadimoulis, GUE/NGL

Eva Joly, Greens/EFA

Georgi Pirinski, S&D

Helmut Scholz, GUE/NGL

Isabella de Monte, S&D

Jean Lambert, Greens/EFA

Jordi Solé, Greens/EFA

José Bové, Greens/EFA

Josef Weidenholzer, S&D

Jose Inacio Faria, EPP

Josep-Maria Terricabras, Greens/EFA

Julie Ward, S&D

Knut Fleckenstein, S&D

Kostas Chrysogonos, GUE/NGL

Luke Ming Flanagan, GUE/NGL

Margrete Auken, Greens/EFA

Maria Grapini, S&D

Maria Heubuch, Greens/EFA

Mark Demesmaeker, ECR

Maximilien Dardel, GUE/NGL

Merja Kyllönen, GUE/NGL

Monica Macovei, ECR

Petra Kammerevert, S&D

Petras Austrevicius, ALDE

Rebecca Harms, Greens/EFA

Richard Sulík, ECR

Sabine Verheyen, EPP

Tanja Fajon, S&D

Theresa Griffin, S&D

Tilly Metz, Greens/EFA

Vallina de la Noval, GUE/NGL

 

Other/international organisations

Simone Susskind (Deputy, Brussels Parliament)

The International Press Institute (IPI)

Article 19

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

Euro Med Rights

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS)

Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA)

PEN Germany

PEN International

PEN Norway

Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

Wales PEN Cymru


This resolution follows a roundtable held under Chatham House Rules on January 29, 2019, at the European Parliament on “Turkey: The Myth of Domestic Legal Remedy. Organised by IPI and MEP Rebecca Harms, the event was attended by MEPs, representatives of the European Commission, the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights and representatives of human rights NGOs as well as journalists and legal experts from Turkey. The roundtable examined the lack of independence and impartiality of Turkey’s judiciary and the failure of Europe-wide institutions to acknowledge to inability of Turkish courts to provide an effective remedy for rights violations.



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