European court rapporteur: Criticizing president is constitutional right

Speaking during the “Right to individual application to the Constitutional Court” seminar organized by the Adana Bar Association, Ozdemir said Turkey is one of the leading countries with a high number of cases in the European Court of Human Rights against the violation of freedom of expression. “The court’s recent decision against the Turkish state’s blocking of YouTube in 2008 is the latest example of it,” she said.

The Strasbourg-based court ruled on Dec. 1 that the decision of the Turkish authorities to block the video viewing and sharing website in 2008 was in violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which enshrines the right to freedom of expression.

In May 2008, the Ankara Criminal Court of First Instance ordered a block on YouTube on the grounds that the website contained 10 videos that were insulting to the memory of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey.

Access was blocked between May 2008 and Oct. 30, 2010, when the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office lifted the ban following a request from the company owning the copyright to the videos in question.

When asked about the increasing number of investigations into people who are critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, opened in order to silence dissident voices in Turkey, Ozdemir said all Turkish citizens equally have the right to make their views heard, as long as it does not promote or encourage violence. Ozdemir added that the Turkish Constitution guarantees citizens’ rights to freely express their views.

Adana Bar Association President Mengucek Gazi Cıtırık, speaking during the seminar, said Russia and Turkey are the two countries with the most cases in the European court for violating individuals’ rights. “Turkey’s human rights record is full of stains,” Cıtırık said.