PACE draws attention to the persistent scourge of impunity in Turkey

pace1.jpgThe Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a written declaration, calling to draw attention to the persistent scourge of impunity in Turkey. The declaration, bearing the signatures of 35 PACE delegates from 24 countries, marks the fifth anniversary of the Turkish state’s murder of Hrant Dink and calls for recognition of the Armenian, Assyrian, and Pontic Greek genocides. The full text of the declaration is provided below:

“The Criminal Code and the Anti-Terrorism Act continue to seriously impede freedom of expression in Turkey. The provisions of these pieces of legislation have been applied to disproportionately limit freedom of expression, including that of journalists, broadcasters and publishers.

The amendments adopted so far by Turkey have not been sufficient to deal with the root causes of violations of the right to freedom of expression found by the European Court of Human Rights. We express our particular concern about the use of civil and criminal defamation provisions and invite public figures to refrain from initiating defamation proceedings which have serious effects on media freedom.

We consider that the Turkish authorities should urgently review the Internet and Radio and Television Acts and in particular recognize that systematic Internet censorship and the blocking of websites by competent administrative authorities are beyond what is necessary in democratic societies.

Recalling notably the murder of Hrant Dink, advocate of the freedom of expression, we urge the authorities to step up efforts to effectively protect journalists from violence and intimidation.

We are concerned about the continuous denial of the Genocide of Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians (Syriacs) by the Turkish authorities and the use of Article 301 of the Criminal Code for criminal persecution of journalists and writers.

We strongly condemn the continuous violations of their international obligations by the authorities of Turkey.”