For years, Turkey’s legislation and practice concerning freedom of expression and the press were subject to numerous decisions of rights violations by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
Turkey has many more decisions of violation of free expression than any other member state of the Council of Europe and ranked first in this field in the last three years.
As many as 356 out of 845 rulings about violations of free expression that the court gave between 1959 and 2019 were about Turkey. It was followed by Russia with 72 rulings.
Benan Molu, a human rights lawyer, has prepared a report for Expression Interrupted, a group monitoring violations of free expression in Turkey.
The lawyer recommends full independence of the judiciary for the elimination of violations and says that a political will is required for that.
More than 48,000 people stood trial for “terrorism”
The report covers the law articles that constitute the reason for the most cases, namely articles 299 (insulting the president), 301 (degrading the Turkish nation and the state), 220/6, 220/7 and 314 (membership in an illegal organization) of the Turkish Penal Code and articles 6 and 7 of the Law on the Fight Against Terrorism.
Among the 246,426 prisoners in Turkey, 48,924 are either convicted of or standing trial on “terrorism” charges, says the report, citing the Ministry of Justice figures.
Journalists, lawmakers and lawyers are among these prisoners. Out of 1,546 imprisoned lawyers, 274 have been convicted of “terrorism-related” offenses by first-degree courts.
Osman Kavala, a businessperson and rights defender who has been in pre-trial detention for more than 1,550 days, 822 academics who stood trial for publishing a declaration criticizing Turkey’s 2018 military operation into Syria, 11 human rights defenders who stood trial for “aiding an armed terrorist organization” and “being a member of an armed terrorist organization” over a meeting on İstanbul’s Princes’ Islands, LGBTI+ groups and closed NGOs are also mentioned in the report.
Here are some of the figures stated in the report about Turkey’s practices concerning rights and freedoms:
Between 1959 and 2019, some 3,645 of the 22,535 rulings given by the ECtHR were against Turkey, which makes it first in the Council of Europe member states.
In the same period, 356 out of 845 ECtHR decisions of violations of free expression were against Turkey. It is followed by Russia (72 decisions), France (38) and Austria (35).
According to a 2019 report by the Committee of Minister of the Council of Europe, there are 5,231 ECtHR decisions pending implementation by the member states. Russia (1,663), Turkey (689) and Ukraine (591) are three states that haven’t implemented the highest number of verdicts. (HA/VK)