Istanbul, March 31, 2022 – Turkish authorities should reject a proposed amendment to the country’s laws that would threaten members of the press with prison time over their reporting on private companies, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.
On March 26, members of parliament with Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) proposed a number of amendments to the country’s real estate, finance, and tax laws; one of those amendments would impose prison terms of up to three years for the publication of “false news” that intentionally harms a private company’s income or reputation, according to reports.
Those convicted could face one to three years in prison along with fines to be set by a judge, according to those reports. As of Thursday, members of parliament were continuing to debate the amendments, according to the legislature’s website.
“Turkish authorities should ensure that steps taken to make the country more attractive for foreign investment do not come at the expense of journalists’ freedom to report on economic issues,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “The proposed amendment barring ‘false news’ about private companies is an obvious attempt to scare journalists and restrict reporting on corruption and malpractice, and it should not become law.”
The AKP and its allied National Movement Party control the necessary majority in the legislature to pass the amendments; if passed by the parliament, they will be enacted if President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signs them into law within 15 days.
On March 16, Turkey’s finance minister promised to “take down” bureaucratic hurdles that have restricted foreign investment in the country, in an effort to improve the country’s economic performance, according to news reports.
CPJ emailed the Turkish president’s office and AKP member of parliament Abdullah Güler, the first lawmaker to sign on to the amendments, for comment but did not receive any replies.