PEN International, PEN Belgium/Flanders, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), Article 19, the Association of European Journalists (AEJ), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the Global Editors Network (GEN), Index on Censorship, the International Press Institute (IPI), American PEN, Danish PEN, English PEN, Norwegian PEN, Wales PEN Cymru, Reporters without Borders (RSF), and the South East Europe Media Organization (SEEMO), welcome the opportunity to deliver this statement.
Working collectively, both jointly and separately, we have an established body of work on freedom of expression in Turkey, in part predating the attempted coup but intensifying since July 2016. Coming from the findings and concerns that have emerged through our work, on this occasion, we have developed four specific requests to the EU, its institutions including the European Parliament, and its Member States:
First, we call on the EU, its Institutions and its Member States to duly implement the EU Guidelines on Freedom of Expression and EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders and to live up the high expectations that were raised therein. Among other things, in the context of Turkey this will entail doing more to end the indiscriminate abuse of criminal legal proceedings against journalists and writers; calling more actively for an end to abusive state of emergency measures that impinge on human rights; and, advocating against restrictive legislation shrinking the space for civil society and human rights defenders. These concerns should be put from and centre not only in political dialogues and during high level visits, but also play a more prominent role when revisiting economic, trade and other agreements between the EU, its Member States and Turkey. Further, we believe the EU and its Member States should be more active when it comes to monitoring and condemning human rights violations.
Second, civil society is under attack in Turkey, and the space for civil society actors and human rights defenders is shrinking. Beyond the immediate impact on activists who are judicially or otherwise persecuted, the Turkish authorities’ actions are also having a chilling effect on actors who for now have remained outside its crosshairs. We call on the EU and its Member States to continue and expand its support to Turkish civil society, both politically and financially.