Broad coalition urges Turkey to restore rule of law, free journalists

Nearly 50 members of the European Parliament and more than a dozen free speech organisations on Thursday joined a resolution calling on Turkey to restore the rule of law and release the country’s more than 150 jailed journalists.

A new report from the International Press Institute found that Turkey held 155 journalists behind bars as of Jan. 29 and that the government had failed to restore press freedom after ending emergency rule last July, but rather extended media restrictions put in place following the July 2016 failed coup.

The resolution, supported by IPI and 13 other free speech organisations, as well as 47 MEPs, noted the lack of independence and impartiality of the judiciary, the lack of speedy recourse to justice, and the practice of committing journalists to lengthy pre-trial detention.

“From my very own experiences in closely following the developments in Turkey and monitoring personally several trials against journalists in Turkish courts, I can confirm the findings of this resolution about the failure of Turkey's judiciary,” Rebecca Harms, Green Member of the European Parliament, said in a statement on her website.

“I strongly urge the Turkish authorities to take our recommendations seriously, to reinstate rule of law and freedom of expression and to immediately release all journalists from prison," she said.

The resolution called on Turkey to uphold domestic and international guarantees for freedom of expression and basic rights of defendants in criminal proceedings, including to the presumption of innocence and to receive a fair hearing conducted by an independent and impartial judicial panel.