PACE says Turkey and Azerbaijan should stop attacking journalists
Stefan Schennach (Austria, SOC), General Rapporteur on media freedom and the safety of journalists for PACE, expressed concern over the detention of journalists going on for many years especially in Turkey.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) report on Threats to media freedom and journalists' security in Europe observes that Turkey is the country which has the highest number of imprisoned journalists, at present 95 according to the Council of Europe Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists.
"Journalists are placed in arbitrary pre-trial arrest and detention, and are held for months, sometimes for years, before their cases come to court. Such detentions are the result of politicised targeting of journalists for their critical reporting; they are an obvious violation of freedom of expression and of journalists' right to liberty and security", said Mr Schennach.
Moreover, in the context of the current pandemic crisis, detention in penitentiaries constitutes an unjustified risk to health, and even to life. A recent bill proposes that approximately one third of 300,000 Turkish detainees be released, but it excludes those detained for terrorism-related offences, and therefore the majority of the 95 journalists in detention, as they are charged with or convicted of terrorism-related offences, although with no solid justification.
The General Rapporteur concluded that the "current situation in Turkey and Azerbaijan is unacceptable. In both these member States, freedom of expression, including freedom of the media, has been violated for several years. Therefore, I call on both Turkey and Azerbaijan to urgently stop these attacks on journalists, in order to uphold the standards established by the Council of Europe and stick to the values promoted by our Organisation."