Turkey’s new penal code entered into force on 1 June. The code is one of the key reforms identified by the EU as a condition for opening accession talks with Ankara in October 2005. However, it continues to elicit controversy.
The revised code, which was signed into law by President Ahmet Necdet Sezer on 1 June, significantly liberalises the country’s criminal justice system by increasing penalties against human rights abuses and torture. It also improves the rights of women and children.
However, the paragraphs concerning the media continue to attract strong criticism both inside and outside the country. Newspapers and press organisations say that the revised law remains vague enough to allow for arbitrary court decisions, and this in turn may threaten freedom of expression. At the same time, they argue that the code is too restrictive on the protection of privacy, which may stifle investigative journalism.
In May, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) submitted a list of recommendations to the Turkish authorities, urging them to amend the country’s new penal code to bring it into line with internationally accepted standards on free expression. The OSCE has called on Ankara to use the opportunity to create a law that would “serve as a model for modern democracies”.
EU Actors positions
- Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe:Review of the draft Turkish penal code: Freedom of media concerns
- International Freedom of Expression eXchange:IFEX members protest new criminal code
- International Federation of Journalists:Black Day for Press Freedom in Turkey Warns IFJ as New Law Threatens Journalists
- International Publishers Association:New Turkish penal code: A long way to freedom of expression
- International Press Institute:Open letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
- Reporters Without Borders:New criminal code will not take effect until June
- Human Rights Watch:A crossroads for human rights?
- Forbes:EU-sought Turkish penal code takes effect amidst criticism over press freedom
- TurkishPress:New Turkish penal code goes into effect today
- Turkish Daily News:Penal code comes into force
- ADNKronos:Turkey: Controversial new penal code comes into force
- Kurdish Media:EU-sought penal code takes effect in Turkey despite criticism
- Nouvel Observateur:Entrée en vigueur du nouveau code pénal turc
- Le Monde:Entrée en vigueur d'une réforme pénale controversée
- Nachrichten.ch:Türkische Strafrechtsreform schränkt Presse ein