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PACE urges Türkiye to drop new law criminalising ‘false or misleading information’

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The Parliamentary Assembly has said planned legislation in Türkiye to criminalise the dissemination of “false or misleading information” would “cause irreparable harm to the exercise of freedom of speech before elections” and urged the Turkish authorities not to enact it.

Approving a resolution today on the honouring of obligations and commitments by Türkiye, based on a report by John Howell (United Kingdom, EC/DA) and Boriss Cilevičs (Latvia, SOC), the Assembly reiterated its call for the release of Osman Kavala, and urged the Turkish authorities to implement the Strasbourg court ruling in this case. It invited the President of the Assembly and the Chair of the Committee of Ministers to “make full use of the means at their respective disposal, if Türkiye’s failure to comply with its obligations should persist”.

The change of political system adopted in 2017 – while being a sovereign right of any member State – had “seriously weakened the democratic institutions in Türkiye and made the system of checks and balances dysfunctional and deficient”, the parliamentarians said. There was “an urgent need for reforms to restore the full independence of the judiciary and effective checks and balances”.

The Turkish authorities need “to ensure that all conditions will be met to guarantee free and fair elections, including the ability of the opposition to operate, and journalists to work in an independent way”, they added, referring to elections foreseen for next year. The parliamentarians also welcomed Türkiye’s mediation efforts regarding the war in Ukraine.

The Assembly said it would continue ongoing constructive dialogue while, in the framework of the monitoring procedure for Türkiye, following developments in the country concerning democracy, rule of law and human rights.