Turkey curbs press freedom

By Dominic Ponsford

Turkey has set itself on collision course with European standards of
press freedom by introducing a draconian new law, according to the
International Federation of Journalists.

IFJ general secretary Aidan White said: “It is a black day for press
freedom when a government enacts a law that threatens journalists with
jail and opens the door to state censorship.

Turkey has taken one
step forward on the road to democracy, but this new law is two steps
backwards when it comes to the free press.”

Turkey’s journalists have held marches in Istanbul and Ankara in protest against the Penal Law, which came into force this week.

They
say there are 20 articles in the new law that could restrict the right
to report and may lead to arbitrary prosecution of journalists and
media.

According to the federation, journalists can now be jailed
for publishing material deemed obscene when previously the toughest
penalty would have been a fine.

White said: “The government is
back-sliding on its commitment to reform when it comes to press
freedom. It is showing signs of a new intolerance that is in conflict
with European standards and is setting up a confrontation which will
undermine its ambitions to join the European Union.”

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