Members of the European Parliament display signs that read ‘Je suis Charlie,’ in honor of the victims of the terrorists attacks in Paris. AP Photo
The European Parliament has criticized the Dec. 14, 2014 operation against TV stations and newspapers with alleged links to Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, in a joint motion that is set to be voted on Jan. 15, also recalling that “a free and pluralistic press is an essential component of any democracy.”
The resolution titled “Freedom of expression in Turkey: Recent arrests of journalists, media executives and systematic pressure against media” condemns the recent police raids and the detention of a number of journalists and media representatives on Dec. 14, 2014 in Turkey, stressing that “these actions call into question the respect for the rule of law and freedom of the media.”
“A free and pluralistic press is an essential component of any democracy,” said the resolution, which called on Turkey to “provide ample and transparent information on the allegations against the defendants, to grant the defendants full access to the incriminating evidence and full defense rights, and to ensure the proper handling of the cases to establish the veracity of the accusations without delay and beyond reasonable doubt.”
“Freedom of expression and the freedom of the media remain fundamental to the functioning of a democratic and open society,” it also stated.
The European Parliament also expressed concern over a “backsliding in democratic reforms,” noting a “diminishing tolerance of public protests and a critical media” while citing the arrests of journalists in the Dec. 14, 2014 operation as “a deplorable pattern of increased pressure and restriction of the press.”
The resolution urged Turkey to work on reforms that would provide adequate checks and balances fully guaranteeing freedom, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
It called on the Turkish government to address media freedom as a matter of priority and provide an adequate legal framework guaranteeing pluralism, in line with international standards.
It noted that Ankara’s Action Plan for the Prevention of Violations of the European Convention on Human Rights does not envisage a revision of all relevant provisions of the Anti-Terror Law or of the Criminal Code, which have been used to limit freedom of expression. It stressed the need to reform these laws as a matter of priority.
“Only a transparent and well-functioning civil society can build trust and confidence between different components of a lively and democratic society,” it added.
Güven Özalp / BRUSSELS