İSTANBUL BULUŞMASI » 11. İstanbul Buluşması: Avrupa Konseyi Genel Sekreteri Thorbjorn Jagland'ın mesajı

11. İstanbul Buluşması: Avrupa Konseyi Genel Sekreteri Thorbjorn Jagland'ın mesajı

Dear organisers and participants of the 11th gathering in Istanbul for freedom of expression, I should like to apologise for not being able to attend your event, devoted to the freedom of...
25 Mayıs 2018

Dear organisers and participants of the 11th gathering in Istanbul for freedom of expression,

I should like to apologise for not being able to attend your event, devoted to the freedom of expression. This cornerstone of democratic checks and balances, protected by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, is today challenged and undermined from multiple directions. The number of violations reported to the Council of Europe’s Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists has not ceased to grow. Physical attacks on journalists have increased. Last year, five journalists were killed in the Council of Europe region and well over one hundred were reported to be deprived of their liberty, a vast majority of them in Turkey. My latest report on the state of democracy, human rights and the rule of law also found that the arbitrary shutdown of media organisations, the subjective blocking of online content and problems related to the lack of transparency of media ownership are also on the increase.

I am particularly concerned with regard to the situation in Turkey and notably with the fact that so many journalists, members of parliament, Mayors and human rights defenders are deprived of their liberty. In July 2016, the Council of Europe was swift to condemn the attempted coup and I made it clear that Turkey could count on our solidarity and support. It was right – and remains right – that the Turkish authorities should investigate the crimes that were committed and prosecute those who are responsible. This is clear. But any action and measures must be in compliance with the European convention on human rights and within the limits of derogations stipulated therein. As stated by the Strasbourg Court, freedom of expression is essential for journalists to disseminate facts, stimulate debate and inform the public, even where it could offend, shock or disturb. This is also the essence of a large number of judgments by our Court concerning Turkey over the past ten years. In this respect, and others, the actions undertaken by the Turkish authorities must be compatible with their legal obligations under the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Convention contains clear standards on fundamental rights. These include: the existence of sufficient grounds for detention, the presumption of innocence, access to legal representation, access to a court, equality of arms, and the right to a fair trial within a reasonable time frame. It is of utmost importance that the cases of all the people affected by the state of emergency measures in Turkey are dealt in compliance with these standards. This is an imperative condition for a country, party to the European convention on human rights and a member of the Council of Europe. I shall continue to insist on this in all my interactions with the Turkish authorities.

I wish you a very successful event.