03 September 2019
Re: To Human Rights Council Member and Observer States of the United Nations Human Rights Council, to raise the ongoing crisis for freedom of expression in Turkey
Ahead of the 42nd regular session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), we, the undersigned human rights and journalists’ organisations, call on your delegation to speak out and address the Turkish government’s repressive campaign against freedom of expression. The Council must not continue to ignore such a blatant violation of Turkey’s international human rights law obligations and commitments.
The situation for freedom of expression in Turkey is now critical, as outlined in a joint submission on freedom of expression to the UPR of Turkey by civil society(1). The right to hold and express dissenting opinions and to access information has been systematically undermined by the Turkish government in an intensive crackdown on journalists and independent media, academics, civil society, oppositional voices and the judiciary. Since 2016, the human rights situation in Turkey has steeply declined, facilitated by the misuse of sweeping emergency powers and the concentration of executive power. At the time of writing, at least 138 journalists and media workers are imprisoned, with hundreds more currently on trial facing lengthy sentences on manifestly unfounded terrorism charges. At least 170 media outlets have been closed down over claims they spread “terrorist propaganda”. Access to thousands of websites and platforms has been blocked after a government decree authorising removals and blockages of websites without judicial oversight.