Strasbourg, 22.06.2012 – At the end of a fact-finding visit to Turkey from 17 to 21 June 2012, PACE’s rapporteur for post-monitoring dialogue with Turkey Josette Durrieu (France, SOC) has urged the Turkish authorities to speed up the revision of the Penal Code and the anti-terror law in order to strengthen freedom of expression. She said that at a time when Turkey wished to turn the page of a history marked by coups d'état and the major role of the army, the detention on remand of numerous journalists, academics, generals and students, interminable trials, and the situation in prisons cast a shadow over the ongoing process of democratic reform.
During her visit, Ms Durrieu met several personalities held on remand in Silivri prison and followed part of the ODA TV trial in Istanbul. Welcoming the release of journalist Müyesser Yildiz on 18 June, Ms Durrieu noted that many journalists were held pending trial on the basis of doubtful digital evidence, then released in some cases without fresh evidence being provided. “The boundary between the exercise of the journalist’s profession – which presupposes inquiry into the core of affairs – and the exposure of journalists to charges of accommodating or abetting subversive organisations must be made clear, as must the definition of terrorism. These are some of the challenges to freedom of expression which must find an answer in the revision of the Penal Code and the third and forth packages of the judicial reform, which should be swiftly adopted by parliament.”
“The efforts made by the Ministry of Justice to harmonise legislation and legal practice with the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights deserve to be highlighted and must be continued,” she stressed.
“Freedom of expression and freedom of the media are fundamental principles that should be expressed in the new Turkish Constitution,” the rapporteur added, welcoming in that connection the setting up by parliament of a committee on conciliation on which the political groups in parliament are equally represented, and which is responsible for the preparation and unanimous adoption of the draft of the new Constitution.