The Turkish government has been silencing the media on a massive scale to prevent scrutiny or criticism of the government's "ruthless crackdown" on its enemies, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report Dec. 15. The report was based on interviews with journalists, editors, lawyers, and press freedom activists, and a review of court documents relating to the prosecution and imprisonment of journalists. According to HRW, since the failed coup in July, the attack on critical journalism has "accelerated…denying Turkey's population access to a regular flow of independent information from domestic newspapers, radio, and television stations about developments in the country." The report stated that Turkey was abusing the criminal justice system to prosecute and imprison journalists on false charges of terrorism, insulting of public officials and crimes against the state. HRW also documented physical attacks on journalists, interference with journalistic independence, government takeover or shutdown of private media companies and critical television stations.
HRW's Europe and Central Asia director Hugh Williamson stated that:
Free and independent media help promote the free flow of ideas, opinions, and information necessary for political processes to function, and serve as a critical check on executive authorities and powerful actors linked to them… The Turkish government and president's systematic effort to silence media in the country is all about preventing public scrutiny… Keeping 148 journalists and media workers in jail and closing down 169 media and publishing outlets under the state of emergency shows how Turkey is deliberately flouting basic principles of human rights and rule of law central to democracy.
Williamson urged the UN Human Rights Council, US and EU to step up the pressure on the Turkish Government to respect journalists and the freedom of the press.
From Jurist, Dec. 16. Used with permission.
See our last post on the crackdown in Turkey.