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Turkey26 July 2006

Government urged to conform to European Court’s rulings on freedom of expression

As Turkey often violates freedom of expression, Reporters Without Borders today hailed yesterday’s ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that it breached article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, concerning free expression, by prosecuting the editor and owner of a pro-Kurdish daily.

The court ruled that Turkey should not have convicted the journalists for an article in 2000 about the trial of Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK-Kongral Gel), or for publishing a letter he wrote, as they “did not exhort the use of violence or incite armed resistance or rebellion,”

Reporters Without Borders said: “The court’s decision highlights the difficulties journalists face in Turkey. They cannot discuss the Kurdish issue freely without being accused of collaborating with the PKK-Kongral Gel armed separatists. The Turkish government does not tolerate criticism and has just adopted a new anti-terrorism law that will considerably broaden the sanctions against the press.”

The organisation added: “Turkey must find a compromise between its security concerns and the need to respect press freedom by referring to European Court of Human Rights case law.”

The two journalists are Cihan Capan, the editor of the pro-Kurdish daily Ozgur Bakis, and Halis Dogan, its owner. Both were fined in 2000. Capan also received a 13-month prison sentenced which he has never served. Several issues of the newspaper were seized in the course of 2000 and the newspaper was also ordered to pay heavy fines under different laws including the anti-terrorism law.

The European Court of Human Rights yesterday ordered Turkey to pay Capan and Dogan 5,000 and 7,000 euros respectively in compensation.




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