Save Turkish journalists - Reporters Without Borders

“The net is closing fast” on Turkey’s journalists, making swift action from the European Court of Human Rights a necessity, the Paris-based non-governmental organisation Reporters Without Borders said in a call for action on Friday.

Turkey was ranked the world’s leading jailer of journalists for the second consecutive year in 2017, with 73 journalists behind bars for their work. Of these many have been imprisoned for long periods pending trial.

Three prominent writers – Ahmet and Mehmet Altan, and Nazlı Ilıcak – were convicted on terror charges last month after over being imprisoned for over a year pending trial. The court handed the three life sentences on evidence described as “insubstantial” and in spite of an order from Turkey’s highest judicial body, the Constitutional Court to release Mehmet Altan.

As a member of the Council of Europe, Turkey is legally required to comply with rulings by the European Court of Human Rights over breaches of the European Convention of Human Rights.

However, this convention covers journalists who are arbitrarily jailed, in other words, the journalists imprisoned pending trial. Once sentenced, they fall outside the ECHR’s jurisdiction.

The “Save Turkish Journalists” campaign by Reporters Without Borders calls on the ECHR to take swift action on 20 applications from journalists imprisoned provisionally in Turkey, before the journalists are sentenced and the chance to intervene lost.