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An open letter to the future President of Turkey

Supporters of the Turklish president wear T-shirts in the design of the national flag and carry a large flag during an election campaign rally for the AK Party in Istanbul, 20 June 2018
Supporters of the Turklish president wear T-shirts in the design of the national flag and carry a large flag during an election campaign rally for the AK Party in Istanbul, 20 June 2018

YASIN AKGUL/AFP/Getty Images

This statement was originally published on indexoncensorship.org on 20 June 2018.

Seventeen international freedom of expression and professional organisations have sent a joint letter with their demands for how to protect and strengthen media freedom and independent journalism in Turkey to all candidates in the upcoming presidential elections:

Your term starts in critical times. Freedom of expression in particular has declined drastically in the last couple of years in your country. To this day, more than 150 journalists remain in prison, thousands of critical thought leaders have lost their jobs and a large number of them have left the country.

We, the undersigned international freedom of expression and professional organisations, ask you to prioritise the following points in the upcoming term to uphold the rule of law and to protect and strengthen media freedom and independent journalism in Turkey:

release all journalists who have been imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of expression and their journalistic work and drop all charges against them.

restore the impartiality of the judiciary and ensure the functioning of the Constitutional Court by refraining from exerting any political pressure on it and guaranteeing the implementation of its decisions.

reform the system of criminal law that is currently being abused in order to prosecute and jail journalists, specifically the Penal Code and the Anti-Terror Law, which are among the main obstacles to freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Turkey.

de-centralise and end state control of the regulation of media. Let media policy and media regulation processes be implemented by journalist associations, media representatives and academics, in compliance with the jurisprudence of the ECtHR.

support the independence and pluralism of the media by redesigning ownership restrictions, support public broadcasting media to become free from political and economic interference, ensure media pluralism by subsidising small independent local media. Legal, political and administrative measures must be adopted to ensure free and fair competition in the media.

reform and monitor the Press and Advertising Agency (Basın İlan Kurumu) to ensure that independent newspapers are not deprived of public advertising revenue. The appointment of media and internet regulatory bodies such as RTÜK and BTK should be transparent and must answer to the principles of media independence and freedom.

June 20th, 2018

Thank you for your attention.

Yours faithfully,

Index on Censorship
Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI)
International Press Institute (IPI)
Norwegian PEN
PEN American Center
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
South East Europe Media Organisation
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
Association of European Journalists (AEJ)
Danish PEN
European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
German PEN
Global Editors Network (GEN)
Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso – Transeuropa (OBCT)
Ossigeno per l'Informazione (Ossigeno)
Swedish PEN

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