04 August 2008

2552) Who Guards The Turkish Press? - Perspective On Press Corruption In Turkey by Andrew Finkel

© This content Mirrored From  http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com
April 2011 Update:
OSCE Report Finds Turkey Is Holding 57 Journalists in Prison
Number Indicates Country is the Lead Jailer of Journalists in the World


The Press Becomes Corrupt When It Tolerates What It Knows To Be False And Becomes An Apologist For What It Itself Has Condemned As Wrong. . .


Who Guards The Turkish Press? - Perspective On Press Corruption In Turkey By Andrew Finkel






Monday, 04 April 2011
OSCE Report Finds Turkey Is Holding 57 Journalists in Prison
Number Indicates Country is the Lead Jailer of Journalists in the World

By Steven M. Ellis
Journalists and activists participate in a rally calling for press freedom in central Ankara 19 March, 2011. The recent arrest and jailing of journalists as part of investigations into Ergenekon, an alleged ultra-nationalist, secularist network opposed to Prime Minister Erdogan's rule, has triggered expressions of concern from the European Union, the United States and human rights groups about Ankara's commitment to media freedom and democratic principles. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

The International Press Institute (IPI) today obtained a report from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) indicating that Turkey is currently holding at least 57 journalists in prison – apparently more than any other country.

The report followed an analysis of more than 70 journalists the OSCE conducted in conjunction with Erol Önderog(lu, editor-in-chief of the BIANET Independent Communications Network in Istanbul.

While Iran and China topped lists last December by reportedly jailing some 34 journalists each, Turkey, a candidate for membership in the European Union, has nearly doubled that number five months later, raising questions about the country’s commitment to freedom of the press and the legitimacy of its democratic image.

The numbers in the report correspond with those given by the Freedom for Journalists Platform – an umbrella group representing local and national media organizations in Turkey, including IPI’s Turkish National Committee. One of the journalists jailed is IPI World Press Freedom Hero Nedim S,ener, who reportedly stands accused of belonging to an armed terrorist organisation seeking to overthrow the government.

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic', who commissioned the study, called on Turkish authorities to bring the country's media legislation in line with OSCE commitments on media freedom. She wrote in a letter to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutog(lu that the survey was intended to show the need for media legislation reform, which she offered her office’s support in developing.

Estimating that there are between 700 and 1,000 ongoing proceedings that could result in imprisonment of journalists, Mijatovic' said: “The sheer number of cases poses fundamental questions about the legal provisions governing journalism in Turkey, and it raises concerns that the number of journalists in prison can further increase.”

Mijatovic' acknowledged that governments have a legitimate need to fight terrorism, but she said that national security should not be used as a ground to curb media freedom. She also commented that criminalization of speech should be restricted to clear instances of intentional incitement to terrorism or other forms of violence.

“It is very important that authorities protect objective reporting even on sensitive topics such as terrorism or national security,” she said. “The public’s right to know includes such issues.”

According to the report, another 10 journalists in Turkey are awaiting trial. An additional journalist, whose location is unknown, is subject to a search warrant, and two other journalists have been convicted but subsequently released.

The report found that most of the jailed journalists are imprisoned under articles of Turkey’s anti-terror law relating to criminal code provisions on terrorist offences and organizations, or assisting members of or making propaganda in connection with such organizations; or under criminal code prohibitions on establishing, commanding or becoming member of an armed organization with the aim of committing certain offences.

It also found that prosecutors have sought and courts have imposed extremely long sentences. Vedat Kurs,un and Emine Demir of the Azadiya Welat newspaper were sentenced to 166 years and 138 years in prison, respectively, while Bayram Namaz and Ibrahim Çiçek of the Atilim newspaper each face up to 3,000 years in prison. Mustafa Balbay of Cumhuriyet newspaper, Mehmet Haberal of Kanal B Television and Tuncay Özkan of Kanal Biz Television all face dual life sentences, plus further time.

Journalists also face several trials, the report noted, such as Halit Güdenog(lu of Halit Yürüyüs, magazine, who currently faces 150 court cases.

The OSCE said in a release accompanying the study that both laws and their implementation need to be reformed, insofar as court practices vary widely throughout the country. The group also noted that writing about sensitive issues, including issues of terrorism or anti-government activities, is often viewed as support for those activities, and that imprisoned journalists are often placed in high security prisons with the most dangerous criminals.

IPI Board Member Ferai Tinc, who is also chairperson of IPI’s Turkey National Committee, said: “These journalists are in jail because of Turkey’s anti terrorism law, which has become a law that threatens press freedom in Turkey. Every investigative journalist is threatened by this law. We find this unacceptable. We have asked the government to change this law, but, unfortunately, the government does not listen to the voices of professional journalism organizations.”

IPI Director Alison Bethel McKenzie added: “Turkey, at the crossroads between east and west, is a major regional power with an ancient cultural heritage. The country is also often held up as an example of a healthy Muslim democracy, and IPI held its high-profile annual World Congress in Istanbul in 2007 in recognition of the pivotal bridge-building role the country plays.

“For Turkey to step away from this history and to jail more journalists than any other country in the world is damaging. We call on the Turkish government to respect the right of freedom of the press and to release all journalists detained because of their work.”

The OSCE noted in its report that in many cases it could not access full information, meaning details could not be stated with precision. The organisation also pointed out that in many cases classified as secret defence lawyers were not even given access to trial documents.
This press release is supported by the South and East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an IPI affiliate.

More than 50 journalists are imprisoned in Turkey, OSCE calls for legal reforms!

VIENNA, 4 April 2011 – Dunja Mijatovic', the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, today asked Turkish authorities to bring the country’s media legislation in line with OSCE commitments on media freedom following the release by her Office of a study that shows 57 journalists are imprisoned in Turkey.

“At present, 57 journalists are in prison in Turkey and the number of ongoing trials that can result in imprisonment of journalists is estimated to be from 700 to 1000,” said Mijatovic', who commissioned the study after receiving a number of reports about imprisoned journalists.

In a letter to Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutog(lu, she wrote that the survey intended to show the need for media legislation reform in Turkey. She also offered her Office’s support in developing such reforms.

“The sheer number of cases poses fundamental questions about the legal provisions governing journalism in Turkey, and it raises concerns that the number of journalists in prison can further increase,” Mijatovic' added.

“The OSCE participating States, including Turkey, have reaffirmed on several occasions the importance of free expression and the need to protect it. The OSCE commitments stress that everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right includes freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority. Turkey reaffirmed the need to protect these values as recently as at the 2010 OSCE Astana Summit.”

She said that though governments have a legitimate need to fight the threat terrorism poses to national security, such security challenges should not be used by governments to curb media freedom. Criminalization of speech should be restricted to clear instances of intentional incitement to terrorism or other forms of violence.

“It is very important that authorities protect objective reporting even on sensitive topics such as terrorism or national security. The public’s right to know includes such issues,” Mijatovic' said.

She also noted that certain details in the study could not be determined precisely as the justifications for the imprisonment of journalists were not always in the public domain.

The table of imprisoned journalists ( PDF )

OSCE Report: Turkish Journalists



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