Turkey: Press freedom mission to investigate threats to independent journalism

Turkey: Press freedom mission to investigate threats to independent journalism - Protection

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ARTICLE 19 joins journalism, press freedom and human rights groups on a three-day mission to Turkey this week to investigate serious, continued threats to independent journalism in the country.

The mission is organised as a new “disinformation” bill that will further enhance the government’s powers to censor news and information goes before parliament. ARTICLE 19 leads the meeting with the Turkish Constitutional Court.

The bill, with its vaguely formulated definition of disinformation and equally unclear reference to “intent”, and with its implementation overseen by Turkey’s highly politicised judiciary, will put millions of internet users at risk of criminal sanctions and could lead to blanket censorship and self-censorship in the run up to the 2023 elections.

From October 12 to 14, mission delegates will meet in Ankara, Istanbul and Diyarbakir, as well as online, with editors, journalists, local civil society groups, Turkish MPs from various political parties, members of government regulatory bodies, foreign diplomats, European Union officials, representatives of leading global tech companies, and the Turkish Constitutional Court.

In addition to the disinformation legislation, other issues the coalition intends to raise are continued prosecution and legal harassment of journalists; journalist safety, particularly in the runup to next year’s elections; press accreditation; surveillance of journalists; and (lack of) judicial independence and its effects on press freedom.

Led by the International Press Institute (IPI) and IPI’s Turkey National Committee, the mission includes representatives from Amnesty International Turkey, ARTICLE 19, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT), PEN International, Reporters Wwithout Borders (RSF), and the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO).

The mission will hold a press conference at 10.30 (9.30 CEST) in Istanbul and at 11:30 (10:30 CEST) in Diyarbakır on Friday, October 14 to share the results of the meetings and the partner organisations’‘ analysis of the state of press freedom in Turkey.

The press conferences will be held at Postane (Beyoğlu, Istanbul) and Dicle Fırat Gazeteciler Derneği (Diyarbakır) and will be conducted in both Turkish and English