Report on Country Visit to Turkey: Findings and Recommendations

From 14 to 18 November 2016, the Special Rapporteur conducted an official visit to Turkey at the invitation of the Government. The visit took place just months after July’s attempted coup d’etat left over two hundred dead and united people across Turkey in condemnation. In its aftermath, the Government declared a state of emergency, announced derogation under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights, and adopted a series of decrees which, it averred, were meant to address the security threats that gave rise to the coup attempt. Those decrees supplemented an already dense network of anti-terrorism laws and proscriptions on expression, such as expression critical of the president and other government officials. Cumulatively, the laws preceding the coup attempt and those that followed give authorities broad and increasingly unreviewable discretion to take measures against the press, writers, universities, jurists, civil servants, human rights defenders and many others. They have established one of the worst environments for freedom of expression in Turkey in decades, if not one that is unprecedented in its modern history.

The official mission gave the Special Rapporteur an opportunity to hear from Government authorities in Ankara as well as journalists, activists, writers, artists, lawyers, imprisoned individuals and others in Ankara and Istanbul who are facing the brunt of the restrictions. Based on his visit and evaluation of the legal and policy framework in force, the Special Rapporteur concludes that the Government, in order to act in accordance with its international obligations, should take a number of steps as a matter of the highest priority in order to reverse the crisis and return the country to its democratic path. As an immediate measure of the highest humanitarian priority, the Special Rapporteur urges the Government to release all those detained in recent years on the basis of their exercise of the right to freedom of expression.

Response of the Government of Turkey

The government’s response to the report is below. 

Other Materials

For the Special Rapporteur’s public statement immediately following his visit, please click here.

For the Special Rapporteur’s preliminary observations on the state of freedom of expression in Turkey, please click here.