Event: Journalism behind bars in Turkey

Parallel event to the Human Dimension Implementation Meetings

Tuesday 17 September 2019 |18.15 –19.45 

Meeting Room IIPGE National Stadium, Warsaw


Harlem Désir, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media 

Erol Önderoğlu, Reporters without Borders 

Veysel Ok, Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) 

Banu Güven, Deutsche Welle Türkçe 

Andrew Finkel, P24 – Platform for Independent Journalism 


Sarah Clarke, Head of Europe and Central Asia, ARTICLE 19


Turkey is the OSCE participating State with the highest number of journalists in prison. The majority of those imprisoned are facing anti-state charges, such as belonging to or aiding groups deemed by the authorities to be terrorist organisations. Furthermore, since the July 2016 failed coup attempt, hundreds of press cards and many journalists’ passports have been revoked; hundreds of journalists still await trial and face long prison sentences if convicted. Thousands of websites have also been blocked in the country, including Wikipedia. Moreover, despite the two-year long state of emergency coming to an end in July 2018, the government has introduced a series of laws that have a detrimental effect on media freedom in the country. 

In light of these staggering statistics, there is an urgent need to reform the laws that allow for journalism to be criminalised, and also to fundamentally rethink the way these laws are being implemented by Turkish courts. 

The side event will explore the situation of imprisoned journalists and try to explain why this is the case from a legal point of view, by looking at the current media laws and existing legal safeguards used to protect journalists in the country. Furthermore, it will provide an opportunity for panellists and guests to share their personal experiences and the challenges they face in their work. In addition, the speakers will provide a detailed expert review on the proposed judicial reforms and discuss in what ways such reforms can contribute to the improvement of the current situation in Turkey. One of the key issues to address would also be how to ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, co-operation between the authorities and civil society, as well as stronger engagement by international and non-governmental organizations. 

The event will be in English.