The members of the Association of European Journalists, meeting at their annual General Assembly in Kilkenny, Ireland, utterly condemn the ongoing systematic and relentless oppression by the Turkish government authorities against the media.
Excessive and arbitrary measures, taken without normal democratic safeguards under state of emergency laws, have turned Turkey into the world’s biggest jail for journalists. The number of journalists and media executives arrested and detained since July’s failed military coup has reached at least 142. A large number of privately-owned media outlets, including newspapers and TV and radio stations, have been closed down or summarily taken over on orders of the authorities without any chance to appeal.
The actions taken by the authorities to silence the remaining critical voices in the country go far beyond what could be permissible under Turkey’s international commitments to free speech and the rule of law, and they are violating the most fundamental human and civil rights.
The AEJ is acutely concerned by widespread abuses against the freedom and rights of hundreds of journalists, including loss of employment, protracted pre-trial detention, denial of their right to access to a lawyer for up to five days, punitive bans on the free movement of family members, and in a large number of cases the bringing of criminal charges for terrorism or anti-state activities without meaningful evidence.
The members of the Association urge Turkey to restore freedom of speech and the right to information to its citizens by ending the practice of blocking internet access.
The AEJ calls on the Council of Europe and its member state governments, the European Parliament, the European External Action Service and the European Commission to exert their influence on Turkey’s government and parliament to cease arbitrary judicial proceedings, release all the journalists being held in detention for their work, and commit themselves unreservedly to honouring Turkey’s commitments to freedom of the press, free speech and the rule of law.