Turkey’s top court delivers another ruling against internet censorship

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has found rights violations in an access ban imposed on news websites Yüksekova Haber and Zap Haber in 2016, adding to a series of judgments against Turkish authorities’ online censorship, the Bianet news website reported on Monday.

The top court said the censorship of the two news outlets was in violation of freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

Yüksekova Haber and Zap Haber were censored in 2016 at the request of the country’s Telecommunications Authority (BTK).

The year 2016 is infamous for the Turkish government’s widespread post-coup crackdown on dissent in the aftermath of a failed putsch in July, which included the summary closure of nearly 200 media outlets over purported ties to terrorism.

In recent years Turkish courts have been imposing access bans on thousands of URLs due to their political content such as allegations of corruption, misconduct or nepotism, citing the protection of the privacy of government officials or high-ranking bureaucrats who were implicated.

Turkey ranks 165th among 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2023 World Press Freedom Index, which was announced in May of last year.

The country has seen an erosion in the rule of law, especially after the 2016 attempted coup, when more than 4,000 judges and prosecutors were removed under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is accused of replacing the purged judiciary members with young and inexperienced loyalists.

In a development that confirmed the erosion of the Turkish judiciary, Turkey was ranked 117th among 142 countries in the rule of law index published by the World Justice Project (WJP) in late October, dropping one place in comparison to the previous year.

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