Turkish Parliament approves amendments to anti-terrorism legislation

[JURIST] Turkey's Grand National Assembly [official website, in Turkish] approved amendments [BIA summary] to the country's anti-terrorism legislation on Thursday to bring the legislation more in line with EU freedom of expression standards. Through the amendments Turkey will narrow its definition of terrorism propaganda [Reuters report]. Amendments to Article 6 envisage punishment for people who propagate or publish declarations of an illegal organizations only if the content legitimizes or encourages acts of violence, threats or force, and also clarify that publishers of such declarations are not automatically deemed members of the illegal organization making the declaration. Over the years, Turkey has prosecuted numerous politicians, reporters and activists [AP report] through its broad-reaching terrorism legislation.

In February, the Council of Europe urged Turkey to move more quickly [JURIST report] in its efforts to reform the laws governing freedom of expression and anti-terrorism, and the pressing need for action. The UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) [official website] criticized Turkey in November for prosecuting activists [JURIST report] under the country's vague counterterrorism law. In March 2011 a spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] urged Turkish officials to respect journalists' freedom of expression [JURIST report]. In November 2010 a Turkish Magistrate Court in Ankara reinstated [JURIST report] the nearly three-year ban on YouTube [media website; JURIST news archive] only days after the ban had been lifted. The court ordered access to YouTube blocked after video of former opposition leader Deniz Baykal in a bedroom with a female aide surfaced on the site. In September 2010 the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that Turkey failed to protect the life of well-known Turkish-Armenian writer and journalist Hrant Dink [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive] and failed to adequately investigate his murder and infringed on his right of freedom of expression. Dink, editor of the newspaper Agos [media website], was shot and killed [JURIST report] in Istanbul in January 2007. Prior to his death, Dink was tried and then put on retrial [JURIST report] for "insulting Turkishness" by writing about the killing of Armenians during the Ottoman Empire.

 

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