Demonstrators hold posters reading "Journalism is the insurance of democracy," in front of a courthouse in Istanbul on September 9, 2020, before a trial of jailed journalists. CPJ and partners warned of Turkey’s compromised institutions in an October 2020 press freedom mission. (AFP/Ozan Kose)

CPJ, partners warn of Turkey’s compromised institutions in press freedom mission

Turkey’s press freedom situation is continuing to deteriorate as judicial independence shrinks and the government’s grasp on the internet tightens, a delegation featuring the Committee to Protect Journalists and 10 other international press freedom and human rights organizations said in a statement and a press conference today.

From October 6-9, 2020, the delegation met with Turkish journalists and press freedom advocates, representatives of state institutions and diplomatic missions, and politicians to gather information about the challenges to freedom of expression and press freedom in the country. The mission was conducted in a hybrid online and in-person format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The delegation held a hybrid meeting with representatives of Turkey’s Constitutional Court and an on-site meeting with a Justice Ministry official in Ankara, the capital. Among the concerns highlighted by the delegation were Turkey’s new social media law, the blocking of news websites, physical attacks on journalists, and alleged threats to the independence of the judiciary.

Turkish journalists hold meetings with an international press freedom delegation to Turkey at TGS Academy in İstanbul on October 9, 2020. (CPJ)

In its meetings with Turkish journalists and representatives of local nongovernmental organizations, the delegation discussed issues including reporting during the pandemic and the funding of local organizations, in addition to the top press freedom concerns mentioned above.

The mission was organized and led by the International Press Institute (IPI), and was joined by ARTICLE 19, the Association of European Journalists (AEJ), CPJ, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Human Rights Watch (HRW), Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBC Transeuropa), PEN International, Reporters without Borders (RSF) and the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO).

Read the full statement here.