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16 March

A call for media pluralism and freedom

68 organisations from around the world express concern about the continuous deterioration of freedom of expression in Turkey


 
Platform for Independent Journalism (P24) joins 67 international organisations in signing a statement addressed to the President of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The statement was delivered in Geneva on March 15 by Sarah Clarke of PEN International.
 
Here is the full text:
 
 
JOINT ORAL STATEMENT ON THE DETERIORATION OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND MEDIA FREEDOM IN TURKEY
 
UN Human Rights Council 34th Special Session
 
Item 4: Human rights situations that require the Council's attention
 
15 March 2017
 
Mr President,
 
PEN International, ARTICLE 19 and 66 organisations are deeply concerned by the continuous deterioration of freedom of expression and media freedom in Turkey following the violent and contemptible coup attempt on 15 July 2016.
Over 180 news outlets have been shut down under laws passed by presidential decree following the imposition of a state of emergency.  There are now at least 148 writers, journalists and media workers in prison, including Ahmet Şık,[1] Kadri Gürsel, Ahmet and Mehmet Altan, Ayşe Nazlı Ilıcak and İnan Kızılkaya, making Turkey the biggest jailer of journalists in the world.  The Turkish authorities are abusing the state of emergency by severely restricting fundamental rights and freedoms, stifling criticism and limiting the diversity of views and opinions available in the public sphere.[2]  

Restrictions have reached new heights in the lead up to a crucial referendum on constitutional reforms, which would significantly increase executive powers, set for 16 April 2017. The Turkish authorities’ campaign has been marred by threats, arrests and prosecutions of those who have voiced criticism of the proposed amendments.  Several members of the opposition have been arrested on terror charges. Thousands of public employees, including hundreds of academics and opponents to the constitutional reforms, were dismissed in February. Outspoken “No” campaigners have been detained, adding to the overall climate of suspicion and fear. The rights to freedom of expression and information, essential to fair and free elections, are in jeopardy.

In the run-up to the referendum, the need for media pluralism is more important than ever.  Voters have the right to be duly informed and to be provided with comprehensive information on all views, including dissenting voices, in sufficient time. The prevailing atmosphere should be one of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. There should be no fear of reprisals.

We urge this Council, its members and observer states, to call on the Turkish authorities to:

- Guarantee equal broadcasting time for all parties and allow for the dissemination of all information to the maximum extent possible in order to ensure that voters are fully informed; 

- Put an end to the climate of suspicion and fear by:

        Immediately releasing all those held in prison for exercising their rights to freedom of opinion and expression; 

        Ending the prosecutions and detention of journalists simply on the basis of the content of their journalism or alleged affiliations;

        Halting executive interference with independent news organisations including in relation to editorial decisions, dismissals of journalists and editors, pressure and intimidation against critical news outlets and journalists; 

- Revoke the excessively broad provisions under the state of emergency, the application of which, in practice, are incompatible with Turkey’s human rights obligations. 
Thank you Mr. President.
 
 
ActiveWatch – Media Monitoring Agency
Adil Soz - International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Albanian Media Institute
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain
ARTICLE 19
Association of European Journalists
Basque PEN
Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Cartoonists Rights Network International
Center for Independent Journalism - Hungary
Croatian PEN centre
Danish PEN
Digital Rights Foundation
English PEN
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom
European Federation of Journalists
Finnish PEN
Foro de Periodismo Argentino
German PEN
Global Editors Network
Gulf Centre for Human Rights
Human rights watch
Icelandic PEN
Independent Chinese PEN Center
Independent Journalism Center - Moldova
Index on Censorship
Institute for Media and Society
International Press Institute
International Publishers Association
Journaliste en danger
Media Foundation for West Africa
Media Institute of Southern Africa
Media Watch
MYMEDIA
Nigeria PEN Centre
Norwegian PEN
Pacific Islands News Association
Pakistan Press Foundation
Palestine PEN
PEN American Center
PEN Austria
PEN Canada
PEN Català
PEN Centre in Bosnia and Herzegovina
PEN Centre of German-Speaking Writers Abroad
PEN Eritrea in exile
PEN Esperanto
PEN Estonia
PEN France
PEN International
PEN Melbourne
PEN Myanmar
PEN Romania
PEN Suisse Romand
PEN Trieste
Portuguese PEN Centre
Punto24
Reporters Without Borders
Russian PEN Centre
San Miguel PEN
Serbian PEN Centre
Social Media Exchange - SMEX
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
South East European Network for Professionalization of Media
Vigilance pour la Démocratie et l’État Civique
Wales PEN Cymru
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WANIFRA)

 
 
 
[1] Turkey: Investigative Journalist Ahmet Şık Arrested, 29 December 2016: http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/turkey-investigative-journalist-ahmet-sik-arrested/
[2] Turkey: Politically-motivated trials of journalists and human rights defenders continue, 20 February 2017: http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/turkey-politically-motivated-trials-of-journalists-and-human-rights-defenders-continue/


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