Seventy-one journalists still remain behind bars in Turkish prisons, journalists from the International Press Institute (IPI) and the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) said, adding they were concerned about the current state of press freedom in the country, during a meeting of the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) held Dec. 5.
Freedom for Journalists Platform (GÖP) speaker Peter Preston said he had been closely following Turkey’s steps in the democratization process for the last 25 years. Preston is also the secretary general of Ankara Journalists Association and a columnist for The Guardian and The Observer. “I think the speed of [Turkey’s] democratization process has slowed down. The things I heard worry me,” Peterson said, adding that they met government authorities and the main opposition Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in Ankara, demanding the release of the arrested journalists.
According to data gathered by the association, 71 journalists are still in prison, while the trials of those released are ongoing.
TGC deputy chair Turgay Olcayto, IPI’s Turkey Executive Board member Ferai Tunç, Turkish Journalists Syndicate chair Ercan İpekçi were among the meeting’s speakers.
Olcayto commented on the fourth judicial package, which is mainly focused on eliminating the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) rulings that concern the violation of human rights in Turkey and is expected to pass Parliament soon. “Unfortunately, I am not very hopeful about this package,” he said, adding that the Turkish Penal Code and the Anti-Terror Law must be immediately reformed. “Those incidents are a shame for Turkey,” Olcayto said.