EU concerned over rising scribe arrests

EU concerned over rising scribe arrests

EU concerned over rising scribe arrests

Turkish justice does not sufficiently guarantee freedom of expression, Füle says. AA photo

European Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Füle has expressed profound worry at the wave of arrests that have put dozens of Turkish journalists behind bars and said he is closely monitoring the matter of press freedom in Turkey.

“The right to freedom of expression is undermined by the large number of legal cases and investigations against journalists, writers, academics and human rights defenders,” Füle said in a Jan. 30 letter that was addressed to Arne Körnig, the president of the European Federation of Journalists.

“This leads to self-censorship and, together with undue pressure on the media, raises serious concerns. We are also concerned by the wave of arrests, notably of journalists in the framework of the investigation into the KCK,” he said.

The Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) is the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the world.

In a recent speech, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan dismissed mounting international criticism over press freedom in Turkey as a “smear campaign” and insisted that the judiciary was independent. He also said some of the journalists currently in jail were involved in violent activities and were linked to the PKK.

Füle said Turkey’s legal framework was not in line with European Union standards and that it did not sufficiently guarantee freedom of expression in line with the European Court of Human Rights.

The commissioner strongly emphasized that amendments were needed to the Turkish Criminal Code, the Press Law and the anti-terrorist act.

Füle also said he was looking into a newly announced judicial reform package to regulate pre-trial detentions and added that he had discussed the issue with Turkish EU Minister Egemen Bağış and Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin at various meetings.

Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) listed Turkey as 148th out of 178 countries in its World Press Freedom Index for 2011 on Jan. 26.

The Platform of Solidarity with Imprisoned Journalists of Turkey, meanwhile, said there were currently 105 journalists imprisoned in Turkey.