Constitutional Court ruling important for advancing free speech, free media online in Turkey, says OSCE Representative

This article on the Turkish Constitutional Court ruling that annulled key portions of a proposed media law was originally posted on osce.org and can be read here. The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments.

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today welcomed the ruling by Turkey’s Constitutional Court to decrease the power of the country’s telecommunications authority, TİB, in blocking websites and monitoring Internet users.

“This ruling constitutes an important and long-awaited step forward for free expression on the Internet in Turkey,” Mijatović said. “I recognize that the protection of national security is the prerogative of governments but the authorities must also ensure that these measures do not curb the fundamental right to free expression.”

On 2 October, the Constitutional Court of Turkey ruled that the authority of the TİB to close websites within four hours without a court decision on the grounds of protecting national security, public order, or preventing crime was unconstitutional. The court also ruled against TİB’s right to store Internet data for up to two years. These powers were granted to TİB by amendments to the Internet Law, passed by the parliament on 10 September.

“This ruling is the latest in a series of imperative decisions made by the Constitutional Court of Turkey in the past months. Given the numerous challenges that media freedom faces in Turkey, these steps are essential in protecting freedom of expression and media freedom in the country,” Mijatović said.

On 2 April the Court ruled that Turkey’s ban on social media platform Twitter violated the freedom of expression and individual rights, and on 29 May the Court said that the blocking of the video-sharing site YouTube violated laws governing the freedom of expression.

The Representative has been promoting the reform of the Internet Law of Turkey since she took office in 2010. Earlier related statements can be accessed at www.osce.org/fom.

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