The report’s findings come as the Erdogan administration faces heightened international scrutiny over its crackdown on freedom of the press in Turkey. The recent arrest of two Vice Newsjournalists and dawn raid on the Koza Izek group, which together in the past month have elicited renewed public outcry against the AKP-led government’s treatment of the media, are reminiscent of a number of events detailed in the report. The clearest parallel can be drawn with the December 2014 arrests of 15 purportedly Gülen-affiliated journalists, including Samanyolu Media Group chief executive Hidayet Karaça, whose court-ordered release the Istanbul chief public prosecutor’s office still refuses to carry out.
Commenting on the findings of the report, the authors said: “We have analysed the actions taken by the Turkish government and its agents since December 2013 and have unanimously concluded that there has been a distinct reversal in the reform process that had been taking place since Turkey began accession talks with the European Union in 2005. We regard this as a serious setback for Turkish democracy and its respect for human rights, in particular for the freedom of speech and the rule of law.”
The report identifies three main ways in which the government’s subsequent actions against supporters of the Gülen movement have violated the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), as well as other human rights treaties to which the Turkish Republic is party:
- By taking unprecedented steps to exert executive authority over Turkey’s judiciary, police and prosecuting authorities are subsequently detaining outspoken media figures and police officers involved in the anticorruption operation in contravention of their rights to liberty, security, and a fair trial
- By suppressing freedom of expression, particularly in the media through the filing of criminal prosecutions against and exertion of economic and political pressure on journalists and publications, but also through interference with social media
- By purging from public office, directing hate speech against, and interfering with the property rights of individuals and companies claimed to be associated with the Gülen movement
Dr Ismail Mesut Sezgin, Director of the Centre for Hizmet Studies, said: What is significant about this report is that the systematic human rights violations against the Hizmet movement and those claimed to be associated with it have been comprehensively studied by some of the best legal minds of the English legal system who have held some of the highest judicial positions in the country. As to be expected, the report is written in a clear, factual and to the point manner. Something that it so often missed in Turkey, including Turkish judicial proceedings. The report demonstrates the government’s judicial and legal interference and its implications as well as how and why the government’s actions against Hizmet amounts to clear violations of the relevant articles of the European Convention of Human Rights, hate crime and discrimination.
For the full report or its executive summary, visit One Brick Court Chambers website.
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For all media enquiries, please contact Fatih Isik at firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors
About the Gülen-inspired Hizmet movement:
The Hizmet movement is a civil society network of individuals and religious, humanitarian, and educational institutions that subscribe to Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen’s advocacy of interfaith dialogue, community service, and universal education.
About the report:
The report, titled “A Report on the Rule of Law and Respect for Human Rights in Turkey since December 2013”, was written by an independent, self-governing group of authors following a request by solicitors to the Journalists and Writers’ Foundation to conduct an independent inquiry into the actions of the Turkish government, its institutions and officials, against supporters of the Gülen movement. The subject material of this review included written statements provided by witnesses and victims, as well as Turkish legislation, court judgements, and summaries of witness testimonies.