In response to the unprecedented threat against the rights to freedom of expression and fair trials, ARTICLE 19 and the Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC) have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on monitoring trials in Turkey.
As part of that agreement, ARTICLE 19 and BHRC have already monitored two hearings in the trial against columnists and journalists writing for Zaman newspaper at the Serious Crimes Court in Istanbul and two hearings in December in separate cases as part of BHRC’s partnership with ARTICLE 19. Turkey v. Baransu and others (Taraf Newspaper case) and Turkey v. Cagdas Erdogan.
Turkey is the world leader in imprisoning journalists and media workers: there are currently around 170 journalists in jail, many of whom face terror charges. Under a state of emergency introduced after the 2016 failed coup attempt, over 100,000 civil servants, military officers, judges, teachers and academics have been summarily dismissed and taken into custody, due to alleged association with terrorist organisations. This includes 30% of Turkish judges and prosecutors, exerting a chilling effect on the judiciary. Constitutional reforms allow the President to control judicial appointments, further jeopardising the independence of the judiciary.
The agreement between the two organisations seeks to bring together ARTICLE 19’s expertise on the right to freedom of expression and BHRC’s expertise on fair trials to draw attention to Turkey’ss use of the courts to silence those exercising their right to freedom of expression.
You can read more about BHRC’s work in Turkey here.
To learn more about Article 19, visit their website here.