The decline of media freedom continues
The decline of media freedom in Turkey is continuing, the Turkey Journalists Association (TGC) Executive Board points out in a statement on World Press Freedom Day, May 3:
“We can only say in the name of press freedom that the decline is continuing in a county where the number of journalists under arrest is nearing 100 and the number of legal cases against journalists has reached 10,000. Unfortunately, also this year, Turkey is ranked 117th among 197 countries under the category of partially free countries in the latest report issued the other day by Freedom House.
There are serious problems obstructing freedom of the press in Turkey. The major ones among them are problems related to legal obstacles, labor regulations and the structure of the media.
1. Legal obstacles:
Appropriate improvements along the lines of contemporary legal definitions must be done immediately, primarily in the Turkish Penal Code, Anti-Terror Law and Code of Criminal Procedure. It is an indisputable fact that legislation and practices that do not respect the European Convention on Human Rights and the verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights must be amended. We also find it interesting that there has been no progress up until today in the package submitted to Parliament in January by the Justice Ministry that contained relative improvements to the laws.
2. Labor regulations:
Law number 212, the Press Labor Law as we call it, and the amended Law number 5953 are almost invalidated. Job security of journalists has been downsized to almost nil because there is no deterrent enforcement when Law number 1952 is not applied. The removal of the wear and tear right of journalists has further deteriorated the situation of reporters, camerapersons and photo-journalists, who are already working under extremely tough conditions. TGC has submitted its proposals to the prime minister and relevant ministries to correct this situation which works against the public’s right to be informed and access to correct and impartial information.
3. The structure of the media does not possess those features that would enable it to resist political interventions or interventions from the capital. The failure to establish editorial independence especially in the mainstream media is the most significant negative issue we can detect. Performing the profession of journalism under today’s circumstances has become even tougher. It is impossible to mention freedom of the press in a county where the number of journalists under arrest is around 100 and the number of legal cases against journalists has reached 10,000. We do not think it suits our country that this year also, in press freedom rankings, Turkey is placed 117th among 197 countries and categorized as a partially free country.
On World Press Freedom Day, in the light of all this, we want violations of press freedom such as detentions, arrests, jail sentences, attacks, injuries and murders aimed at journalists to come to an end.
We demand the removal of those pressures that eliminate editorial independence and divert the press to auto-censure.
We expect the cancelation of the specially authorized courts, which we regard as the continuation of the State Security Courts which were the product of extraordinary eras.”