Turkish PM hears suggestions on reforming state slander penal code provision

[JURIST] Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan [official website; BBC profile] met Sunday with representatives of nearly a dozen non-governmental organizations to discuss possible reforms to the controversial Article 301 [Amnesty backgrounder] of Turkey's penal code, which criminalizes the denigration of Turkishness, the Republic, and the foundation and institutions of the Turkish State. Members of organizations including the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges [TOBB] [trade website, in Turkish] presented Erdogan with a 10-page document of suggested changes to the article aimed at increasing its international acceptance. Zaman Daily has more. The meeting occurred in anticipation of the November 8 release of the latest Turkey Progress Report by the European Commission [official website; 2005 report, PDF], slated to review progress in Turkey's current bid for EU membership [JURIST report]. Last week media outlets reported that an early draft of the document raised serious doubts [JURIST report] about Turkey's candidacy.

The European Union has urged that Article 301 be abolished [JURIST report] because it infringes upon the freedom of expression. Despite revising portions of the penal code last year, Turkish leaders say they have no immediate plans to make further changes to the law [JURIST reports]. Turkish novelists Elif Shafak, Hrant Dink and Orhan Pamuk [JURIST news archive] have all been charged under Article 301 for discussing the alleged Armenian genocide. Shafak was acquitted and Pamuk's charges were dismissed [JURIST reports], while Dink faces a retrial [JURIST report].

 

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