The Council of Europe believes that the Turkish bill penalizing the “disinformation“, Currently being examined by Ankara, constitutes a”obstaclefreedom of expression, guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.
In a “urgent joint noticepublished on Friday evening with the Directorate General for Human Rights and the Rule of Law, the Venice Commission states “be concerned about the potential consequences“of the text, in particular of the risk of”strengthening self-censorshipin view of the next elections, in June 2023.
Although this advisory group, responsible for rule of law issues in the Council of Europe, recognizes the need to combat disinformation campaigns, it believes that texts aimed at “already exist in the Turkish legal arsenal”the most dangerous aspects of “ false or misleading information ”“And that there isn’t”urgent social need»Adopt a text containing any«arbitrary restrictions on freedom of expression“.
In particular, the bill provides for the punishment of between one and three years of imprisonment for “disseminating misleading informationand to deprive the journalists found guilty of this crime of their press cards.
The opinion of the Council of Europe considers that the Turkish text is therefore in conflict with Article 10 of the Convention which guarantees freedom of expression.
This opinion will be submitted for adoption to the next plenary session of the Venice Commission on 21 and 22 October.
Presented in parliament by MPs from the ruling party (AKP) at the end of May, the Turkish bill was adopted in September by two parliamentary committees.
On Tuesday, as examination of the text began in front of the Turkish parliament in Ankara, several associations and unions of journalists protested, seeing in the bill an attempt at censorship by the authorities.
Less than a year before the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for June 2023, Turkish head of state Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking to exert greater control over the press and social networks, observers believe.
NGOs regularly denounce the erosion of press freedom in Turkey, which ranks 149 out of 180 in the 2022 press freedom ranking published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
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