Council of Europe: Communication “asshole” on freedom of expression in Turkey

Announcement – “spap” on the freedom of expression issued on Tuesday (05.03.2024). “Freedom of expression is at stake in Turkey,” the Council of Europe announced, which expressed particular concern at the risk of journalists’ self-censorship over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authority. Journalists, human rights defenders and civil society are active “in an extremely hostile environment, marked by systematic pressure and judicial persecution,” writes Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner Dunya Miyatovic, in a memorandum on freedom of expression and media. Turkey is one of the 46 member countries of the Council of Europe, the main body for the defence of human rights on the European continent. The deterioration of freedom of expression has reached “very worrying levels and is characterized by numerous blatant violations” of fundamental freedoms, Mijatovic denounces. “The damage caused to media freedom and freedom of expression leaves increasingly deep traces, leading to the self-censorship of journalists and independent media,” the commissioner adds. Mijatovic, whose term ends on April 1st, finds “a continuous and coordinated pressure” aimed “to silence the critical voices” of journalists, as well as lawyers. “Bad police repression” It regrets the obstacles to freedom of assembly, citing “a brutal police repression”, “massive arrests” and criminal prosecutions against peaceful demonstrators. She particularly regrets the ban on demonstrations by women, the defenders of the LGBTQ community or the environment. “It is particularly sad that the course organized in Istanbul on the occasion of International Women’s Day has been banned for eight years,” he denounces as March 8th approaches. Mijatovic sees a “existential risk to the rule of law” due to the lack of independence of the judicial system. Calls on Ankara to release the prisoners of opinion, to revise its restrictive laws and to implement the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. Turkey maintains tense relations with the Council of Europe. Last October, the organization awarded the Vaclav Havel award to the imprisoned Turkish maician Osman Cavala, the black sheep of President Erdogan. Ankara’s refusal to release him has brought an infringement procedure to its detriment that could lead to its expulsion from the Council of Europe.