ANKARA, 5 February 2013 – Dunja Mijatović, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, in a productive meeting today with Turkish Justice Minister Sadullah Ergın, commended the government on easing pre-trial detention procedures and stressed the need for further improvements.
Mijatović said that any amendments should meet international standards and result in better protection of journalists.
“The high number of pending court cases involving journalists accused of a range of alleged crimes, and facing severe punishment and long detentions, makes it clear that laws need to be changed,” she said.
“The role of the media when reporting about sensitive issues, including terrorism or state activities, must be respected. Reporting on issues, however controversial, cannot be interpreted as taking sides, as made clear on several occasions by the case law of the European Court of Human Rights.”
Mijatović identified the need to amend Turkey’s Anti-Terrorism Law, Penal Code and Internet Law as a major legislative challenge, saying that the laws go against Turkey’s international media freedom obligations and have exposed record numbers of journalists to prosecution and conviction.
She welcomed Justice Minister Ergın’s pledge that further reforms will be included in the forthcoming fourth reform package. Mijatović offered her Office’s assistance with the continuing reforms.
While in Ankara, Mijatović also addressed the High Level Conference on Freedom of Expression and the Media in Turkey, hosted by Minister Ergın and Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland.