OSCE media freedom representative alarmed by life sentences against journalists in Turkey, urges reform of Anti-Terror Law
VIENNA, 5 November 2013 – Sentencing journalists to life imprisonment for their work will further deteriorate media freedom in Turkey, Dunja Mijatović, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media warned today.
“The severity of sentences handed down this morning to four journalists in Turkey is alarming,” Mijatović said. “I am in no way trying to challenge the legitimate right of governments to counter terrorism. Terrorism is a transnational threat and it must not be underestimated. However, the fight against terrorism should not be misused to silence provocative or opposing voices in society.”
On 5 November Füsun Erdoğan, Bayram Namaz, and İbrahim Çiçek were sentenced to life and Sedat Şenoğlu was given 7 years and 6 months in prison. They were charged as senior members of a Marxist organization banned under the Turkish Anti-Terror Law. Turkish media organizations, including the Journalists Union of Turkey, have condemned the sentences.
“The Anti-Terror Law of Turkey has systematically been used to silence critical voices,” Mijatović said. “Together with the Criminal Code, the law allows for the arrest, detention and sentencing of journalists on terrorism charges for doing their work.”
“These laws must be immediately and fundamentally reformed to make sure they are not used to supress critical views. Legislation designed to fight terrorism must never be used to crack down on fundamental rights such as free expression and free media.”
The Representative has been calling for the reform of legislation in Turkey that hampers media freedom, including the Turkish Criminal Code and the Anti-Terror Law, since she took office in 2010.