Latest Media Freedom Rapid Response report highlights Turkey’s leading role in violations of press freedom

ANKARA — The latest report from Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) highlighted that, in the first months of 2023, Turkey has seen the highest number of violations of press freedom among European Union member states and candidate countries. MFRR’s dedicated database on press and media freedom violations revealed a total of 136 instances of press freedom violations, which impacted 172 individuals and media institutions within Turkey.

The report spotlights the increasing pressures placed on independent media within the country, particularly exacerbated during a period marked by both the February earthquakes and general elections. Turkey has become known for its high numbers of imprisoned journalists worldwide, with the report emphasizing that 21 journalists are still detained within Turkish prisons. Remarkably, approximately half of the documented violations of press freedom in Turkey have occurred through legal mechanisms.

Arbitrary arrests, the filing of criminal charges, and convictions persistently feature in this context. Journalists are frequently targeted with accusations such as terrorism-related offenses, insults against state officials, and incitement to violence and hatred. These tactics aim to intimidate journalists and stifle the voices of opposition media.

The report underscores that the practice of suppressing dissenting voices within Turkey has contributed to its reputation as a nation characterized by an extensive prison system, which now faces international scrutiny.