In the last Universal Periodic Review in 2015, Turkey supported 14 recommendations related to strengthening the legislative framework for freedom of expression yet none of these have been implemented. Under the State of Emergency, enacted in July 2016 for an initial three months after an attempted coup and extended until July 2018, the Government of Turkey created a number of decrees that bypassed parliamentary scrutiny, undermined the rule of law, and contradicted Turkey’s international human rights obligations, especially regarding the right to freedom of expression and including the right to freedom of artistic expression.
The unprecedented crackdown on the right to freedom of expression for cultural workers, civil society and those advocating an alternative discourse to the official government line, which includes journalists, academics and artists, have become a recurring feature of Turkey’s human rights record. Dissent has been quashed on the grounds that it poses a threat to national security.
» Read the full Freemuse Turkey UPR submission here
Freemuse recommends that Turkey:
1. Develop and implement a specific definition of ‘terrorism’ in line with international human rights standards. This also includes producing specific definitions of ‘terror’, ‘terrorist organization’, ‘membership of a terrorist organization’, and ‘making propaganda of terrorist organization;
2. Introduce amendments to bring article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law in line with international human rights standards, specifically the ICCPR and relevant European Court of Human Rights case law;
3. Review the implementation of article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code to assess its application and how it is being used as a vehicle for targeting specific groups of individuals, including artists;
4. Introduce an independent domestic ombudsman to oversee decisions on blocking online content and websites.