Turkish Justice Ministry: New law to end bans on newspapers
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Peace and Democracy Party co-leader Gültan Kışanak (C) carries an edition of daily Özgür Gündem in a demonstration to protest the closure of the newspaper.New regulations to prevent the closure of media publications and broadcasts are on the way, the Justice Ministry said yesterday in a press statement. The statement came following the controversial month–long ban on the daily Özgür Gündem, amid bitter criticism from journalists’ associations.
The Justice Ministry presented a bill to Parliament in January 2012 in order to create a freer environment for media publications and broadcasts and to forestall the risk of their closure, the statement said. Parliament’s Justice subcommittee is currently reviewing the law package, better known in public as a bill intended to speed up judicial processes, after which time the package will move on to the General Assembly, according to the ministry’s statement.
Allegaged links to PKK
An Istanbul court ordered the closure of the daily Özgür Gündem for an entire month on allegations that it “promotes a terrorist organization” on March 24. The daily, which closely monitors and reports developments related to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), already has 11 journalists behind bars due to their alleged links to the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban wing of the PKK.
The daily’s closure has also prompted sharp criticism from international press associations.
“We are appalled by the police raid and court suspension of Özgür Gündem and call on Turkish authorities to return confiscated copies and allow the daily to resume its work immediately,” said Nina Ognianova, the Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
The New York–based CPJ also officially announced on their website that they were outraged the one–month suspension of the daily. “The government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claims commitment to reform yet continues to use trumped-up charges to silence press outlets that cover sensitive issues. To be meaningful, pledges must be consistent with actions,” the CPJ statement said.
The Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) has also called the ban “a new blow” for the freedom of the press.
“The application of sanctions against media organs, such as closures, seizures and monetary fines cannot be vindicated in democratic countries,” said the TGC’s statement.
“Journalists are not terrorists; newspapers are not tools of terrorism either,” the statement said.