Turkey ranks 153rd out 180 countries in RSF Press Freedom Index

Turkey has ranked 153rd out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2021 World Press Freedom Index, up from 154th last year.

The report pointed to the Turkish government’s use of military operations along the border with Syria, its military intervention in Libya, its political manipulation of the Syrian refugee crisis and its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic as tools used to reinforce its authoritarian policies towards critical media.

While the country is no longer the biggest jailer of journalists, the RSF report said, Ankara continued to suppress critical journalism through regulatory bodies and use the judicial system for political ends.

“The Turkish government controls 90 percent of the national media by means of regulators such as the High Council for Broadcasting (RTÜK),’’ according to the report, which said that “the Press Advertising Council (BIK), which allocates state advertising, and the Presidential Directorate for Communications (CIB), which issues press cards, use clearly discriminatory practices in order to marginalise and criminalise the regime’s media critics.’’

A total of 37 journalists were jailed by Turkey in 2020, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Earlier this month, the Turkish Journalists Union (TGS) revealed that 43 journalists were currently behind bars in the country.

Pluralism has been eliminated in this “New Turkey” marked by RecepTayyip Erdoğan’s “hyper-presidency,’’ the report said.

Moreover, arbitrary decisions by magistrates and government agencies are the new normal and questioning the authorities and the privileged is now almost impossible, it added.