JWF Seeks Protection for Freedom of Speech in Turkey

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On June 24, 2015, JWF attended the 25th Plenary Meeting of the Human Rights Council, 29th Regular Session, along with high-level representatives from member states, intergovernmental organizations, and other major civil society organizations at the UN Office at Geneva.

According to the Turkish Journalists’ Association, 559 journalists, reporters, photojournalists, and staff lost their jobs in 2014 … During the first two months of this year [2015], 67 individuals were sued on the basis of insulting the Turkish president, including a 13-year-old student.

Examples of freedom of speech restrictions in Turkey, noted in JWF’s oral statement to the Human Rights Council in June 2015

The meeting considered statements submitted by member state delegations, UN delegates, and civil society organizations as part of Agenda Item 4 of the General Debate: “Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention.”

Ferin Merve Yilmaz Goksan, JWF Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, delivered an oral statement which emphasized the importance of freedom of speech and focused on developments in Turkey regarding the increase in hate speech.

Goksan said, “It’s very uncommon and even more distracting to see heads of states and governments deliberately committing human rights violations, especially concerning freedom of expression and hate speech. This abnormal situation is a terrifying development with regard to protection and promotion of human rights on a worldwide scale.”

Goksan noted that reports released by global NGOs are raising concerns about the deterioration in freedom of expression, the rule of law, and human rights in Turkey.

The statement concluded with a plea for the Council to protect societies whose highest representatives commit flagrant human rights violations.

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