Council of Europe human rights head ‘concerned’ over freedom of expression in Turkey
ANKARACouncil of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks has expressed concern about recent negative developments affecting the right to freedom of expression in Turkey, citing the recent ban on reporting about the investigation into the Oct. 10 suicide bombing in Ankara.
“I regret to see that in announcing such a sweeping ban on all media, the court does not seem to have weighed the public’s legitimate need for essential information, which is particularly crucial in times of crisis such as the one provoked by the heinous attack of Oct. 10,” Muižnieks stated on his Facebook account.
He reminded the Turkish authorities of the relevant Council of Europe standards on protecting freedom of expression and information in times of crisis, which include terrorist attacks.
Freedom of expression, which includes the freedom to receive and impart information, is a fundamental pre-condition for a truly democratic society, Muižnieks added.
“It is particularly important to uphold this right in an electoral context. I have already expressed my concerns regarding freedom of expression in Turkey on several occasions in the past, but there have been further worrying developments in recent weeks, including the assault on the journalist Ahmet Hakan, the arrest and later release of the editor-in-chief of the Zaman newspaper, Bülent Keneş, and the simultaneous removal of certain TV channels from various broadcasting platforms, reportedly in connection with investigations of the Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office,” the commissioner said.
Muižnieks urged the authorities to take note of these legitimate concerns and do their utmost to address them in full respect of all the principles enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights.