A picture of rapid decline: Turkey’s record on freedom of expression – Online Panel

A picture of rapid decline: Turkey’s record on freedom of expression – Online Panel - Protection

On the same day that Turkey was undergoing its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 28 January 2020, civil society leader Osman Kavala was standing trial in an Istanbul courtroom on spurious charges. The speeches of Turkey’s delegation in Geneva contrasted sharply with the lived experiences on the ground. 

This Monday, 28 September, Turkey will officially respond to its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recommendations at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. 

Turkey presents itself in international fora as a rights-respecting state and claims that the detained journalists filling its prisons are in fact terrorists. But, since Turkey’s last review in 2015, there has been a dramatic deterioration in the right to freedom of expression and the rule of law. A coalition of NGOs including ARTICLE 19, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, English PEN, Freemuse, IFEX, International Press Institute, Norwegian Pen, P24 and PEN International, charted this extraordinary decline in a joint submission to the Human Rights Council. 

This year alone, the people of Turkey have been subjected to on-going attacks on the right to freedom of expression on all fronts. Democratically elected mayors in the South-East were removed from their office and arrested. Detained journalists and human rights defenders, jailed for doing their jobs, were excluded from a prison release programme which was initiated after the outbreak of Covid-19. A new social media law was rushed through parliament, forcing tech companies to open local offices and be subject to the harsh censorship policies of the authorities. Meanwhile, Turkey continues to be the world’s largest jailor of journalists and thousands of journalists and civil society actors face on-going harassment through detentions and prosecutions. 

Looking back over the last four years, what lessons can be drawn for civil society and media actors in Turkey? How can NGOs in Turkey, and those who support them around the world, make better use of international human rights mechanisms to hold Turkey accountable? What can tech companies do to protect the rights of their users in Turkey? How can we best challenge the Turkish authorities’ narrative that all detained journalists are terrorists? How can civil society members find the strength to continue their work?

Join our panel of experts to discuss these questions and more. The panel will discuss Turkey’s record over the last four-year cycle, react to Turkey’s adoption of the UPR and give an update on the latest developments.

Moderator: Sarah Clarke, Head of Europe and Central Asia Programme, ARTICLE 19


  • Yaman Akdeniz, Academic, cyber-rights expert and Co-founder of IFOD
  • Nurcan Baysal, Independent Journalist
  • Mehves Evin, IPI representative and Journalist 
  • Andrew Finkel, Journalist and Co-founder of P24 

The online panel will take place on Monday, 28 September from 18.00 to 19.30 – Turkey time (check your local time here). 

Simultaneous interpretation to Turkish will be provided. Participation will be available during the Q&A session.

Registration is required to attend this online panel. Participants will receive login information upon approved registration.

Register now

For more information, please contact eca@article19.org