100 journalists and 35 newspaper distributors were in jail in April. Journalists were in the streets and courts in order to claim the rights of their prisoner colleagues and to ensure a fair trial. 47 journalists were sentenced to prison in April 2011.
The third judicial package that provided a conditional pardon to press cases was the subject of discussion in 2012. Journalism organizations believe that this change will not solve the main problems of the freedom of expression as the judiciary acts arbitrarily, enlarge the imprisonment periods and labels some press crimes as "terrorism".
100 journalists and 35 newspaper distributors are labeled as "journalists trying to create a media environment for the illegal organizations" by "following up certain news and incidents", "writing a book", "government-critical journalism" or "working for a Kurdish media outlet" claims.
The journalists and distributors are accused with "committing crimes on behalf an illegal organization without being a member of that organization" and/or "willingly and knowingly assisting an illegal organization and being part of its hierarchic structure".
Some journalists are being tried under allegations of founding an armed or unarmed illegal organization, related instigation and administration or membership of that organization and a number of journalists have been convicted.
Only four journalists are facing trial directly on the grounds of the news, articles, comments and books they wrote: Chief editors of Azadiya Welat newspaper Vedat Kurşun, Ruken Ergün and Ozan Kılınç, Aram Publishing owner and Hawar newspaper official Bedri Adanır.
Despite the fact that arrest is a precautionary measure, Article 100 of Turkish Criminal Procedure Code was in practice during the last quarter of 2012; criteria such as "danger of absconding," "destruction, concealment, alteration of evidence," "influencing the witnesses," and "intense and strong suspicion of crime" were applied as ordinary and routine practices.
The Media Monitoring Report for January-February-March 2012 by the Independent Communication Network (BİA) Media Monitoring Desk categorizes events as "Journalist Murders/Trials", "Journalists in Prison", "Distributors/Employees", "Releases", "Attacks, Threats and Obstructions" , "Investigations, New/Pending Trials and Decisions", "Trials Of Kurdish Politicians", "Turkish Criminal Law (TCK) 285, 288", "Defamation, Personal Rights And Compensation Trials", "Decisions of Committee of Public Censors", "Prohibitions, Closures And Confiscations", "European Court Of Human Rights - Applications And Decisions" and "RTUK Reprimands".
The Media Monitoring Report reveals first of all Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) related trials like restrictions of freedom of expression and press freedom, investigations and trials related to freedom of expression, long detention periods, the number of imprisoned journalists and the trials in the context of the 215 (praising offences and offenders), 220 (establishing organizations for the purpose of criminal activity), 285 (violation of confidentiality), 288(attempt to influence a fair trial), 314 (alliance for offence) of the Turkish Criminal Law (TCK).
These prosecutions under Article 7/2 of the TMK usually come together with charges related to Articles 220/7 (aiding and abetting an illegal organization) and 314/2 (enlisting to an organized criminal group) of the TCK.
254-year Prison Threat under TMK
Within three months, 21 people, including 12 journalists, were facing imprisonment of 254 years in total under allegations of "propaganda for an illegal organization" according to Article 7/2 of the TMK. 7 people, including 4 journalists were sentenced to 16 years 11 months behind bars on the grounds of TMK 7/2.
During the time of the previous quarterly report, 13 people were sentenced to imprisonment of 21 years 10 months and monetary fines of TL 66,946 (€ 28,874) due to their opinions regarding Kurdish problem.
Summary of Proceedings for BDP Deputies
120 summary of proceedings were prepared for 24 deputies of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in 3 months:
Selahattin Demirtaş, Ayla Akat Ata, Adil Kurt, Ahmet Türk, Altan Tan, Aysel Tuğluk, Bengi Yıldız, Emine Ayna, Esat Canan, Gültan Kışanak, Hüsamettin Zenderlioğlu, Halil Aksoy, Hasip Kaplan, İbrahim Binici, Levent Tüzel, Nazmi Gür, Nursel Aydoğan, Özdal Üçer, Pervin Buldan, Sabahat Tuncel, Sırrı Sakık, Leyla Zana, İdris Baluken and İbrahim Ayhan.
Ayla Akat Ata and Emine Ayna are ttwo deputies with the most summary of proceedings: 11 summaries of proceedings were prepared for them.
The subjects of the proceedings are as follows: "propaganda for PKK" (TMK 7/2), "Becoming a member of an organization by committing crimes on behalf an illegal organization", (TCK 314/2), 'Opposition to the Law on Political Parties' (Law no.2820 Article 78), 'Opposition to the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations' (Law no.2911 Article 28/1), 'praising an offense or the person committing the offenses' (TCK 215), "openly provoking a group of people belonging to different social class, religion, race, sect, or coming from another origin, to be rancorous or hostile against another group" (TCK 216/1), "openly provoking commission of an offense' (TCK 214/1), 'insulting a public official because of his position' (TCK 125/1).
14 People Alleged Of "Insults"
14 people, including 10 journalists were facing imprisonment by reason of alleged "insult" during the report period. 10 journalists were judged by imprisonment of 28 years and monetary fines of TL 20,000 (€ 8,626) and the others were facing imprisonment of 6 years and TL 10,000 (€ 4,313).
7 journalists were sentenced to imprisonment of 9 months and monetary fines of TL 13,500 (€ 5,822), 6 people were sentenced to imprisonment of 2 years 2 months 20 days and monetary fines of TL 8,480 (€ 3,657) by reasons of alleged "insult", attacks on "personal rights" and compensation claims. A newspaper was sentenced to monetary fines of TL 4,000 (€ 1725).
During the time of the previous quarterly report, 4 people were judged by imprisonment of 77 years 3 months in total within the scope of alleged "insult" and 3 of them were sentenced to 11 months of imprisonment and monetary fines of TL 10,580 (€ 4563).
Closures and Confiscations
In the first 3 months, Özgür Gündem, Atılım, Demokratik Vatan, Demokratik Ulus, Yeni Demokratik Yaşam newspapers seized, suspended and banned under allegations of "propaganda for an illegal organization". The Newroz poster of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and concert posters of Grup Yorum were banned confiscated. An investigation opened about 10 books published by Aram Publishing.
European Court Of Human Rights - Applications And Decisions
At the first quarter of 2012, 37 journalists applied to European Court Of Human Rights (ECHR) for violations of the rights of "fair trial", "freedom and security", "freedom of expression" and "effective application". ECHR rejected the application of a journalist. ECHR sentenced Turkey to pay monetary fines of € 5000 to journalist Erbil Tuşalp. This fine was due to Turkey's violation of Article 10 of The European Convention on Human Rights which is about "freedom of expression".
The Radio And Television Supreme Council
The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) stopped 2 programs, gave 327 warnings and 94 monetary fines to radio and television institutions in the first quarter of 2012.
RTÜK penalties were based on the following reasons: 'protective symbol', 'honor of the people and the right to privacy,' The presumption of innocence', 'violation of Turkish language','abusing people through divination or superstitions','public morality and protection for the family','abuse against children and disabled people','right of reply','obscenity', 'superiority of law' and' 'praising terror'. (EG)
(*In calculations, 1€ = 2.3185 TL)