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Turkey: Intensified crackdown on media increases atmosphere of fear

    OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images
    July 28, 2016
    •         131 media houses shut down. More than 40 journalists detained
    •          Emergency decrees fail test of necessity, proportionality and legitimate purpose

    As Turkey enters its second week of a three month state of emergency, the ongoing crackdown on civil society and the assault on media freedom has reached disturbing and unprecedented levels, said Amnesty International.

    Arrest warrants have been issued for 89 journalists, more than 40 have already been detained and others are in hiding. A second emergency decree passed on 27 July has resulted in the shutdown of 131 media outlets.

    “Rounding up journalists and shutting down media houses is the latest assault on a media already weakened by years of government repression. The passing of this second emergency decree leaves little room for doubt that the authorities are intent on silencing criticism without regard to international law,” said Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director, Fotis Filipou.

    “Even under a state of emergency, restrictions must be necessary, proportionate and for a legitimate purpose. The provisions of the two emergency decrees passed this week fail all three of these tests and fly in the face of the government’s claim that they are upholding rights and the rule of law.”

    The second decree follows the first, passed on the July 23, which increased the pre-charge detention period to 30 days. Amnesty International revealed credible reports of widespread ill-treatment and torture of detainees. Lawyers have been denied access to detainees in violation of law.

    “The authorities must bring to justice those responsible for unlawful killings and other human rights abuses during the coup attempt. But this must be done in a manner that respects the right to fair trial, the prohibition of torture and other human rights. The intenstified crackdown on freedom of the press does not serve this purpose and is unlawful,” said Fotis Filipou.

    “We reiterate our call for Turkish authorities to end ill-treatment and torture of those being detained and allow international monitors to visit all detainees in the places they are being held.”

    CRACKDOWN BY NUMBERS

    Turkey crackdown by the numbers: Statistics on brutal backlash after failed coup

    Human rights in Turkey are in peril following a bloody failed coup attempt on 15 July. The Turkish authorities’ reaction was swift unleashing a crackdown of exceptional proportions that has continued after a state of emergency declared five days later.

    Amnesty International has been on the ground in Istanbul and Ankara to document human rights violations amid these events. Here are some alarming statistics on the situation:

    • 131 media outlets and publishing houses have been shut down including 3 news agencies, 16 TV channels, 23 radio stations, 45 newspapers, 15 journals and 29 publishing houses.
    • At least 89 arrest warrants were issued for journalists. More than 40 have been detained
    • At least 260 people were killed and more than 2,000 injured amid the failed coup attempt in Istanbul and Ankara, according to government accounts.
    • More than 15,000 people have been detained since the failed coup.
    • More than 45,000 people have been suspended or removed from their jobs, including police, judges and prosecutors, and others.
    • Over 1,000 private schools and educational institutions have been closed and 138,000 school children will have to be transferred to state schools
    • 48 hours: the length of time Turkish police in Ankara and Istanbul have reportedly been holding detainees in stress positions. Detainees have been denied food, water and medical treatment, and been verbally abused and threatened. Some have been subjected to severe beatings and torture, including rape.
    • 3 months: the initial period of state of emergency imposed late on 20 July, granting the Prime Minister and his cabinet the power to rule by decree and bypass Parliament.
    • 30 days: the pre-charge detention limit was increased from four to 30 days on 23 July, in the first decree issued under the state of emergency.
    • 15: the Article of the Turkish Constitution which outlines that the authorities cannot “suspend” the European Convention on Human Rights. Even during a state of emergency, they can only derogate some rights.
    • 0: the number of independent human rights monitors with access to detention facilities in Turkey after its National Human Rights Institution was abolished in April 2016.

    For details of Amnesty Internationals latest findings, read the update here.

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    For media inquiries, contact Jacob Kuehn: 613-744-7667, ext 236 // jkuehn@amnesty.ca