OSCE’s Désir questions media freedom in Turkey 49 times in 8 months

Harlem Désir

Harlem Désir, representative on freedom of the media for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), has made 13 statements, posted 31 tweets and written five letters to Turkish officials in the last eight months, an OSCE report revealed on Thursday.

In the 65-page report titled “Regular Report to the Permanent Council for the period from 9 November 2017 to 5 July 2018,” Désir underlined that his second report clearly reflects the situation and problems faced by the media in the OSCE region.

“Since my last report in November last year I have made 273 interventions, 371 in total in 40 participating States in the year I have been Representative,” he added.

“Today, in the OSCE region, more than 150 journalists are still in prison. Reporting, even on sensitive issues, expressing critical views, even on governmental policies, investigating, even on corruption cases, should not lead to the imprisonment of a journalist,” said Désir.

“The fight against terrorism, violent extremism and hate speech should also not result in jailing of journalists who have nothing to do with such criminal activities.”

“I have been and will continue to highlight each case of imprisonment, calling on authorities to dismiss charges and respect the independence and work of the media, until each journalist unjustly imprisoned can be released,” the OSCE’s Désir added.

Désir’s statements and tweets about Turkey have mainly focused on the trials of Zaman, Özgür Gündem and Cumhuriyer daily journalists and columnists. The OSCE representative has written five letters to Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu concerning the proceedings.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 243 journalists and media workers were in jail as of June 27, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 184 were under arrest pending trial while only 59 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 143 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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