Amnesty on new judicial package: Time to Deliver

In a statement late last week, Amnesty International welcomed government statements which have promised sweeping legal reform aimed at bringing Turkey in line with international human rights standards.

Amnesty noted, however, that reforms passed so far have been far too limited and called on Turkey to “use the opportunity of this “Fourth Judicial Package” to push through the fundamental reforms, it has to date been stalling on.”

Amnesty has called on Turkey to meet international human rights standards on the right to freedom of expression by taking the following steps:

1. Abolish Article 301 of the Penal Code “Denigration of the Turkish Nation”, Article 318 “Alienating the public from military service”, Article 215 “Praising a crime or a criminal”, Article 125 “Defamation,” all of which are regularly used in violation of the basic right to freedom of expression.

2. Redefine Article 216, which “has been used to prosecute criticism of dominant beliefs and power structures. It should be amended so that it is only used to prosecute advocacy of hatred amounting to violence or discrimination in line with requirements found within international human rights standards.”

3. Amendment of Articles 6/2 “Publishing declarations of a terrorist organization” and Articles 7/2 of the Anti-Terrorism Law “Making propaganda for a terrorist organization” to ensure that only the overt promotion of violent acts and methods are prosecuted. These amendments should prevent the many prosecutions currently brought under these articles that violate international standards on the freedom of expression.”

4. Turkey must amend its “vague and overly broad definition of terrorism in Turkish law, to bring it into line with international standards regarding legal clarity and legal certainty.”

5. Turkey must also “amend provisions criminalising membership of a terrorist organization, under Article 314 of the Penal Code, and related provisions within Article 220 of the Penal Code that enable the sentencing of individuals “as though they were members” to ensure that only persons found to have committed a recognisably criminal offence can be convicted under these articles.”

Clearly, international pressure has forced the Turkish government to rethink some of the most repressive aspects of Turkish law.  But half measures will not do.  The Turkish government must ensure that the reforms they put in place truly bring Turkish law in line with international human rights standards.



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