Motion for a resolution - B8-1168/2016Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the situation of journalists in Turkey

24.10.2016 - (2016/2935(RSP))

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure

Takis Hadjigeorgiou, Marie-Christine Vergiat, Eleonora Forenza, Marisa Matias, Neoklis Sylikiotis, Patrick Le Hyaric, Barbara Spinelli, Tania González Peñas, Xabier Benito Ziluaga, Lola Sánchez Caldentey, Miguel Urbán Crespo, Estefanía Torres Martínez, Ángela Vallina, Malin Björk, Paloma López Bermejo, Merja Kyllönen, Martina Michels, Sofia Sakorafa, Curzio Maltese, Dimitrios Papadimoulis, Kostadinka Kuneva, Stelios Kouloglou, Kostas Chrysogonos, Javier Couso Permuy, Marina Albiol Guzmán on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-1162/2016

Procedure : 2016/2935(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
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European Parliament resolution on the situation of journalists in Turkey


The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Turkey, in particular those regarding the annual progress reports and the resolution on freedom of expression in Turkey[1],

–  having regard to the 2015 Commission report on Turkey (SWD(2015)0216),

–  having regard to the fact that respect for the rule of law, including in particular respect for freedom of expression, is at the core of the accession process,

–  having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights,

–  having regard to the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Turkey experienced a coup attempt on 15 July 2016, in which more than 250 people were killed and basic democratic institutions were targeted;

B.  whereas following the coup attempt, 2 500 journalists have lost their jobs and arrest warrants have been issued against dozens of media workers;

C.  whereas after the coup attempt the Turkish police arrested more than 140 journalists, including reporters, editors and media executives, on charges of ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’;

D.  whereas a number of the journalists arrested after 15 July have since been released, but more than 90 journalists are still in jail, many of them detained without charge; whereas the detained journalists have been denied the right of access to a lawyer and are being kept in inhuman conditions in which they are being threatened and mistreated;

E.  whereas in some cases relatives of journalists who are in hiding or have fled have been arrested and their passports seized, so as to force the journalists to surrender;

F.  whereas because of the state of emergency and on the pretext of suspicion of ‘collaboration’ with the Gülen movement, 131 media outlets, including 45 newspapers, 16 TV stations, 23 radio stations, 3 news agencies, 15 magazines and 29 publishing houses, have been expropriated and/or closed;

G.  whereas following the coup attempt the Turkish authorities have also shut down pro-Kurdish media outlets and arrested pro-Kurdish journalists;

H.  whereas following the coup attempt foreign journalists have been arrested and deported;

I.  whereas in Turkey freedom of expression is frequently challenged, in particular through arbitrary and restrictive interpretation of the legislation, political pressure, dismissals and frequent court cases against journalists, all of which also leads to self-censorship; whereas this pressure on the media, especially after the attempted coup, has led to the elimination of almost all media outlets linked to the opposition or critical of the government;

J.  whereas even before the attempted coup Turkey was holding a very large number of journalists in prison awaiting trial, but since July 2016 the country has become the world’s leader in imprisoning journalists, with more than 90 in jail at the moment, according to the European Federation of Journalists;

K.  whereas various EU institutions, including the European Parliament and the European Council, have on several occasions expressed their concern at the ‘broader definition’ of terrorism now being applied in Turkey, which allows an increase in repression directed against opponents of the regime, notably journalists, political opponents and Kurds;

L.  whereas an independent judiciary is one of the fundamental bases of the rule of law; whereas, according to the European Association of Judges, almost 3 400 magistrates have had their positions revoked and 2 900 are still incarcerated;

M.  whereas many of those incarcerated have no access to a lawyer;

1.  Strongly condemns all unjustified jailing of journalists and all provisional detentions based on either political criteria or ungrounded suspicions of ‘praising a terrorist organisation’; calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all jailed journalists who are being held without proof of individual involvement in committing a crime or with no charges being brought against them;

2.  Expresses its deep concern at the situation in Turkey concerning press freedom, in particular the freedom of journalists, editors and media workers;

3.  Strongly believes that the state of emergency and the excessive and indiscriminate measures to purge all individuals believed to be connected to the coup attempt of 15 July should not be used as a pretext for the unjustified misuse of force against citizens, journalists and media companies;

4.  Calls on the Turkish Government to revise – in line with the ECHR and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) case law, the EU acquis and EU Member States’ practices – the legal framework as regards organised crime and terrorism, as well as its interpretation by the courts and by the security forces and law enforcement agencies, so as to ensure in practice the right to liberty and security, the right to a fair trial and freedom of expression, assembly and association;

5.  Calls on the Turkish Government to immediately re-establish the signals of all broadcasters and to take all necessary steps to allow journalists to carry out their reporting without threat, harassment or fear of being sent to jail;

6.  Condemns the attempts by the Turkish authorities to intimidate and deport international journalists;

7.  Calls on the Turkish authorities to refrain from also treating family members of suspected journalists as potential suspects and using administrative or other sanctions against them, as in the case of the wife of the exiled journalist Can Dündar, who was arrested and had her passport confiscated in an attempt to oblige Mr Dündar to return to Turkey;

8.  Calls on the Turkish authorities to take into account the health and family situation of journalists suspected of offences when detaining and interrogating them;

9.  Invites the Turkish authorities to put an independent authority that is representative of the journalism profession in charge of issuing press cards, instead of the Directorate-General for Information and Media (BYEGM), which reports to the Turkish Prime Minister’s office;

10.  Expresses its deep concern at the situation regarding the rule of law, democracy and human rights in Turkey; urges Turkey to defuse the tense post-coup political climate, which is creating an environment curtailing freedom of speech in the media and on the internet; condemns, in addition, the incarceration of almost 3 400 magistrates and the fact that almost 2 900 are still in jail;

11.  Recalls that a free and pluralistic press is an essential component of any democracy; reminds the Turkish authorities that the utmost care must be taken when dealing with the media and journalists, as freedom of expression and freedom of the media remain central to the functioning of a democratic and open society;

12.  Calls on the Turkish Government to immediately stop the arbitrary investigation of the internationally renowned journalists, novelists and human rights defenders who added their voices to the solidarity campaign with the daily Özgür Gündem in the role of ‘editors on duty’; calls on the government also immediately to release those who are imprisoned for the same reason, and the novelist Asli Erdogan in particular;

13.  Calls on the Turkish Government to effectively investigate the claims regarding torture of imprisoned journalists, and in particular of the co-editors of the now closed daily Özgür Gündem, Bilir Kaya and Inan Kizilkaya;

14.  Strongly condemns the recent closure of 13 media outlets and 11 radio stations, including in particular IMC TV, which broadcast the opposition view, and Zarok TV, which aired Kurdish-language children’s cartoons; strongly emphasises that arbitrarily silencing any oppositional voice on the pretext of ‘fighting terrorism’ will not help diminish tension;

15.  Strongly condemns the decision of the French company Eutelsat, which stopped broadcasting the Brussels-based pro-Kurdish news channel MED Nûçe TV at the request of the Turkish authorities, and calls on the company to reconsider its decision;

16.  Calls on the Turkish Government to proceed to all necessary reforms to ensure adequate checks and balances that fully guarantee freedom, including freedom of thought and freedom of expression and of the media, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights;

17.  Underlines the importance for the EU enlargement process of press freedom, an independent judiciary and respect for democratic values; stresses that a number of provisions of the Turkish legal framework and their interpretation by members of the judiciary continue to hamper freedom of expression, including freedom of the media; recalls that freedom of expression and media pluralism are at the heart of European values and that an independent press is crucial to a democratic society, as it enables citizens to play an active part in collective decision-making processes on an informed basis, and thus strengthens democracy; urges the Government of Turkey, in this regard, to address media freedom as a matter of priority, and to provide an adequate legal framework guaranteeing pluralism in line with international standards; calls further for an end to pressure on and intimidation of critical outlets and journalists;

18.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Government and Parliament of Turkey.