Turkey must urgently demonstrate commitment to free media and speech, says OSCE PA’s Santos

The Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions, Isabel Santos (MP, Portugal), today expressed deep concern over continuing restrictions placed on freedom of media and freedom of speech in Turkey and urged the country’s leaders to immediately abide by their commitment to upholding these liberties.
“Turkey’s stated goal is to be a modern, European state, but its record on freedom of expression remains incompatible with that goal,” Santos said.

The OSCE PA’s democracy and human rights Chair noted that Turkey continues to have one of the highest numbers of imprisoned journalists among OSCE participating States, despite notable releases last year, and makes more requests to Twitter to remove content than any other country. She also referenced other forms of pressure on and intimidation of journalists, which often result in self-censorship, as causes for concern.

“To cite alleged insults to the president or state as justification for punishing reporters or restricting social media is to openly admit political motivation. Citing problematic anti-terrorism and telecommunications legislation to clamp down on journalism and free speech does not make these actions any more acceptable.

“During the current election campaign period and beyond, the Turkish government and courts must demonstrate respect for dissenting views, whether spoken, printed or posted online. Doing so is essential if Turkey wants to take democracy seriously,” Santos said.

Santos indicated her openness to engaging with Turkish colleagues in the OSCE PA and with Turkish authorities on the topic of freedom of expression and other civil liberties- and democracy-related issues in the country.

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