Freedom of press vital for fight against corruption: Transparency Int'l

Freedom of press vital for fight against corruption: Transparency Int'l

Öykü Altuntaş – ANTALYA / Doğan News Agency
Freedom of press vital for fight against corruption: Transparency Intl

AFP photo

Freedom of press and independence of the judiciary are vital for the fight against corruption, stated Transparency International, addressing escalating concerns over detainments of journalism in Turkey.

“We would be very disappointed to see journalists being locked up because of covering corruption” said Maggie Murphy, Transparency International’s senior program coordinator, speaking to Doğan News Agency at Antalya’s G-20 Summit.

“We think a free and independent press is absolutely vital for any functioning democracy, whether it is Turkey or anywhere else,” added Murphy.

Murphy underlined pressure on media had an influence on corruption. “If journalists are able to ask questions and get honest answers from their governments, that fabric between government and citizens is less threatened,” she said.

Transparency International has found that conflict in a local area is usually triggered by corruption concerns, said Murphy, referring to a link between the growing threat of terrorism across the world including most recently the Paris attack, claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levent (ISIL).

“Corruption can also hamper the efforts of governments trying to deal with conflict. There are severe risks that the G-20 military defense systems in a number of countries pose great risks,” Murphy commented.

“We think you need to have independence of judiciary; court cases must go to court and go through the full due process,” she said, referring to Turkey.

“Finally, there must be political will and we are not sure we see the political will from the Turkish government to really fight corruption,” she added.

Chair of Transparency International in Turkey, Oya Özarslan, agreed on concerns over press freedom and judiciary processes in the country.

Özarslan said she did not expect Turkey’s score to improve, after a significant drop last year, as there has been no advances in the fight with corruption.

In 2014, Turkey had regressed by five points, the biggest jump down in one year than any other country in the world.

A country should show political will, spot its flaws and accordingly make reforms, Özarslan said.

She underlined media freedom was a crucial issue in the “battle field” of the fight with corruption
Over 120 cases have been filed for reporting on corruption in Turkey, where 70 journalists have been taken to court since December 2014, according to Turkish Journalist Association data.

A recent Transparency International report released at the G-20 Summit has showed G-20 countries fail to keep their promises on fighting crime.

“It is crucial that the G-20 principles are now transposed into law and implemented effectively by member countries,” the statement said.