GuNAL – The decline of freedom of the press

The decline of freedom of the pressFreedom of the press is the freedom of communication and part of freedom of expression through mediums including electronic media and published material. It is protected legally both by the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Every year, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a well-known international organization that is an expert on press freedoms, produces a report. In RSFand#39s 2014 World Press Freedom Index, Turkey took 154th place among 180 countries.

Finland, Netherlands and Norway have been the top three countries for the last two years. Although Turkeyand#39s position did not change in comparison to 2013, it will fall in the ranking in 2015.

A US-based nongovernmental organization, Freedom House, prepares a yearly freedom of the press report and classifies countries as free, partly free or not free. Turkey fell from partly free to not free this year, as Iceland, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Sweden topped the list.

North Korea, Turkmenistan, Myanmar (Burma), Libya and Eritrea are considered not free. Turkeyand#39s is in the category with those countries now.

It is clear that Turkeyand#39s position will not change in a positive way after last weekand#39s Dec. 14 operation on the media It has not only taken a step backward but also declined in its respect for human rights as well.

andldquoDespite a few limited reforms, judicial practices continue to be repressive and the number of detained journalists is still at a level that is unprecedented since the end of the military regime. Around 60 journalists were in detention at the end of 2013, including at least 28 held in connection with their work, making Turkey one of the worldand#39s biggest prisons for media personnel.

Despite directives intended to limit use of provisional detention, journalists often spend months if not years in prison before being tried,andrdquo reads RSFand#39s 2014 report.We visualized being a European Union member, having zero tolerance for torture and ill-treatment and having full enjoyment of freedom of expression however, Turkey failed to fulfill this dream, especially in the last five years.

Parliament is far from a meritocracy. The vast majority of all the deputies in Parliament are functioning just by raising their hands in support of legislation without any thought.

Cronyism, that is, partiality to longtime friends by appointing them to positions regardless of their qualifications, is systematic and widespread in the public sector and bureaucracy. Nepotism, a kind of favoritism to relatives, can be seen in every ministry, and recently Republican Peopleand#39s Party (CHP) deputy Haluk Ko announced a long list of examples.

The Dec. 17-25 graft probe regarding four ministers is now closed legally.

We still do not know what will happen in Parliamentand#39s commission set up to examine the event, as the normal procedure should be to send the four to the Constitutional Court, acting as the Supreme State Council according to Article 148 of the Constitution. If any member of the press dares to write anything on this procedure, let me remind you of the gag order issued by an Ankara judge.

It is also clear that this gag order will have a negative impact on next yearand#39s RSF andor Freedom House reports. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have harshly criticized Turkey for its heavy pressure on its media, too.

The great French philosopher Albert Camus once said, andldquoA free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad.andrdquo Is this Turkeyand#39s destiny.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman