Council of Europe Concerned About Press Freedoms in Turkey

Violation of press freedoms is a concern for Council of Europe

ANKARA (Hurriyet Daily News)—The Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights expressed concern over media freedom in Turkey in a report. The report lists the situation of freedom of expression and media freedom in Turkey as ‘worrying’

Turkey’s Union of Jounalists reported on Sunday that currently there are 70 journalists in Turkey who are in prison. The Couincil of European Union also listed freedom of expression and free speech of media as an urgent issue.

Freedom of expression and media freedom in Turkey need to be addressed in the new constitution as charter amendments previously adopted by the country have been insufficient, a Council of Europe commissioner has said in a new report.

“Despite the progress made by Turkey in recent years regarding free and open debates on previously sensitive issues, the situation of freedom of expression and media freedom remains particularly worrying,” Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg said in the report released Tuesday.

“Urgent measures are needed to uphold these rights and foster a more tolerant atmosphere toward criticism and dissent,” he said.

EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fule will most likely broach the topics of freedom of expression and press freedom topics when he meets with Turkish officials in Ankara on Wednesday.

Hammarberg welcomed recent changes to the Turkish Constitution, but said the changes were not enough as the present charter, continued to hinder full respect for pluralism and freedom of expression. The commissioner encouraged Turkish authorities to ensure that the planning of constitutional reform would include close consultation with all political parties and civil society.

“The amendments adopted so far by Turkey have not been sufficient in dealing with the root causes of numerous violations of the right to freedom of expression found by the European Court of Human Rights,” Hammarberg said.

Another area of concern for the Council of Europe is the penal code and anti-terrorism law which continues to impede freedom of expression in Turkey, according to the commissioner.

“Provisions of these pieces of legislation have been used to disproportionately limit freedom of expression, including journalists, broadcasters and publishers,” Hammarberg said.

“Courts and prosecutors interpret and apply existing statutory provisions without due respect to the principle of proportionality and the standards of the European Convention on Human Rights concerning freedom of expression. The authorities should notably introduce into the Turkish legal system the defenses of truth and public interest when assessing the criminal responsibility of journalists.”

The commissioner called on Turkey to effectively address the serious, long-standing dysfunctions within the Turkish judicial system affecting freedom of expression. He also urged Turkish authorities to review the Internet Act and the Radio and Television Act. He considered in particular that “systematic Internet censorship and the blocking of websites by competent administrative authorities are beyond what is necessary in a democratic society.”

Finally, the commissioner, referring to the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, called on authorities to step up efforts to effectively protect journalists from violence and intimidation. He also recommended addressing the precarious working conditions of many journalists, in particular investigative ones, and putting an end to the systematic violation of labor rights of media professionals.

The Turkish government’s response to the report was also appended to the commissioner’s report.

In a letter to Hammarberg, the Foreign Ministry said Turkey had made remarkable progress in recent years in terms of achieving a free and open debate concerning human rights-related issues which were previously considered to be sensitive or taboo subjects.

The ministry, in the letter, declined to respond to each and every finding and recommendation raised in the report, but assured that the government was determined to expand the scope of the freedom of expression.


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  1. necati said:

    who cares Council of Europe ? They better shut up and deal with their problems..They do not have any right to speak on Turkey…

  2. Hrant K. said:

    turkey in order to prevent the recognition of the Armenian Genocide spends Millions of Dollars here in the

    US, and “amazingly” like magic allows in 5 cities in turkey to commemorate April the 24th , to

    pretendingly try to show the Europeans, that they are making “remarkable progress” (dust in the eyes)!!!

    Europeans shouldn’t be fooled by those old turkish tricks, as long as this “Islamic government” is in

    power in turkey, Europe cannot be safe. As they, the turkish Islamists believe in the saying” Support your

    moslem brother in a conflict, even if you know, that they are tyrants (unjusts)”. And it is so naive, still to

    believe, that those islamist turks are doing progress on human rights issues!!! (7)

      • necati said:

        you Armenians talk toooooo much, do nothing..! same as my grandma…

    • ilter said:

      I wonder if you have ever been in Turkey. People in Turkey are not extremists, i would say they are way mild in the religious things than the western countries i have ever been so far.

      About Armenian Genocide, there has to be a judging council on the issue. Facts can not be forced but can be proved. It is a simple truth! If i say a lie and reference to that lie in 4000 different books it does not increase the reliability of my lie in the first place. The thing needs to be done is so easy. Turkey opened its archive, Armenia should also open and third party archives should be reachable and people should discuss about it. Right now, Armenia believes that she can force her point of view by Hollywood movies or propaganda.

      If Armenia is so sure about her facts, it should not be Armenia who rejects such kind of an investigation. She should be so confident herself

  3. necati said:

    no soil to you nor to kürtish, not even a pebble…! so,,, what is your next step?

    • gayane said:

      well i guess we know whose barbarian genes were transferred into you necati.. no need to continue… i feel sorry for you…

  4. vartan said:

    necati, are you one of those flag-waving, ataturk-worshipping little guys
    have you attended any school at all?

    • manooshag said:

      Vartan, Turks show themselves to the world as if they are making inroads/progress with their own misconception of dealings with Armenians…To the world, resurrecting Armenian church edifices – but to Haiastansi’s it becomes just allowing ONE yearly Armenian church service therein…. Turks appear one way with the world community – lying not only to world but also to themselves.
      For, whilst Turks make ‘nice nice’ to the world they are the same as the Ottoman hordes that came from the mountains seeking a ready-made and ancient and advanced nation for them steal by eliminating the citizens of Armenia – and then to ‘forget’/deny their killings and worse!
      Today, whilst Turks make all their lying ‘nice nice’ to the world – more importantly, they are still teaching/educating their youth to hate Armenians – as if it had been the Armenian who shall have sought to eliminate the Turks. Just the actions of the Turk youths who appear in opposition to the Armenian April 24th memorial gathering as is observed in Washington DC, is filled with rancor, vile fingers, and then to cap the day, dancing to music celebrating their nation’s guilt – the stealing of Armenia – muslin Turkish style at its best.

  5. Murat said:

    Best way to solve this issue is to be on table.Everyone could open their cards and an international historian group could make a decision if it is a genocide or not.Both sides shouldnt exaggerate what happened in real.As Turkish side we offered an international committee,we opened Ottoman Empire’s official records to international historians for researches(many many years ago).I think Armenian public should ask their goverment why still it is forbidden to make researches in Armenian archives? Why Armenia rejects to sit and discuss what happened? If Armenian side believes that there is enough evidence to prove this is a genocide,they should come to table and they should let international historians to make investigation in their archives.

    • manooshag said:

      murat, opening Ottoman Empire’s official records??… How dare you to assume we are to trust that such records shall have certainly been ‘amended’, doctored, changed, rewritten, and worse over these years to favor the Turk stance!!…. Never would a Turkey insist on such an immorally insipid need to present its own history unless it was re-written and sadly, even taught in your Turkey’s schools to still educate your youth against Armenians. All your materials shall be all lies that Turkeys leaderships – from the Ottomans until all the leaderships since have used over all these years – ongoing and unending… lies. Just as resurrecting Armenian religious sites as presented to the nations of the world that this was done for the Armenians…
      for the reality for the Armenians: ONLY ALLOWED TO USE THE ARMENIAN CHURCHES AND CATHEDRALS ONE DAY EACH YEAR – again, lies, ala Turkish style! How the lies continue to spout from the Turks – and it seems it is the Turks that believe their own lies…
      ongoing, unending. Thus you shall have noted that such suggestions from the Turkeys is to be ignored as ANOTHER IN YOUR FACE TO THE ARMENIANS, TO THE USA, TO THE WORLD.

    • Tsayt said:

      Murat, there is no “Armenian side” when we talk about genocide. There is the true and the lying side in this issue. The true side has long proven the reality of the Armenian Genocide and of course the criminal side, Turkey, is insisting on its so-called “innocence”. But there is no surprise here because criminals usually, if they could, deny their crimes. However, Turkish crimes has long been proven to have been committed. Now, you know what to do with your propagandistic ” we have opened our archives” BS.

      • ilter said:

        Tsayt, if the Turkish crimes has long been proven why Armenian government is rejecting such kind of an opportunity? If Armenia is so confident about the facts she has, why rejecting? why denial? Just let us know what you have as a fact! It is that simple! But not the propaganda the Armenian side is doing for decades, the facts, the documents, the truths! You can not prove a historical event with an Hollywood movie. It is called propaganda.

        I mean i really want to learn. let us know what you have!

        You are saying there is the true and lying side as Turkey says the same. It is called discussion. I really can not understand how you can not see the argumentation you have here is soo invalid and unsound. In every conflict both sides claims they are the right side, it is the coming from the definition of “conflict”.

        Armenia should not miss the opportunity to prove the “so called genocide”

        re-written documents?? you kidding me? have you ever heard a word like: “technology”. People can perfectly understand when a document prepared nowadays, even if it is a 3000 years old document!

        Btw, in our schools they do not teach us to hate Armenians. Simply we do not care much. I mean in our history we had tooo much events Armenia is just another one! People of Turkey are indifferent for Armenians. So simple! It is so easy to see (even from the comments in this page) that Armenia is using Turkish-hatred as a cement for their nationality. Armenia is trying to gain something out of hatred. This should stop if we want a peaceful Caucasus.

        • steve said:

          Why turkey doesnt sue, those cuntries who recognised the genocide ?

          • ilter said:

            Recognizing the genocide has been a political issue till now. National assemblies are not the right place to discuss about such issues. Parliamentary members are not the right people who should decide on such an issue. They have no expertise, they are totally irrelevant people. Do not you agree that? I bet most people in that parliaments who votes, even can not show Armenia on a map! What a joke! Do not you agree?

            These countries are just using Armenia as a card on the table

            They are using Armenia, they are trying to manipulate Turkey. Such a dirty game.

            Turkey does not sue cause it does not hurt much right now. This is that simple. Because the reason of that votings is not trying to find out the truth (believe me they do not care about what is truth, but they care about interests of their countries) but just a political tactic, it is better not to attack with arguments of truth. If you do so, they can easily find something else (as i said it has nothing to do with what is truth or not, it is about what is beneficial for that countries.). If it does not hurt much, it is wise to stay calm.

        • manooshag said:

          Historically, so many world organizations, nations, and peoples know of the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation. It is the Turk leaderships that lie to the world, and too, lie to themselves as they commit their Genocides, today with the Kurds, stealing too from Cyprus… and more. Turkey decided to steal the ancient and advanced Armenian nation of nearly its nearly 4,000 years history… not by wars – but by eliminating the humans and then to call all that was of the Armenian culture, assets, properties and more as if all these all belonged to the Turkish hordes who came down from the Asian mountains – seeking to steal a nation where they slaughtered, tortured, raped and worse as they marched the Armenians into the deserts to their death. Thus, historically, they stole the Armenian homeland for themselves – lying still into today they and lying, even to themselves – still claiming ancient Armenian homeland to be the Turkeys.

          • ilter said:

            you copy paste the same things over and over again, even i dismissed all your arguments before. You choose not to reply my arguments but try to spread your propaganda. Well, good for you!