It is official. More than 20,000 people insulted Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2017 according to prosecutors.
Turkish prosecutors launched a whopping 20,539 investigations against people who allegedly insulted Turkey’s president. Of those investigations 6,033 went to court.
It was not immediately clear how many convictions had been obtained or acquittals for that matter, but Professor Yaman Akdeniz from the law faculty Istanbul’s Bilgi University says that since the failed July 2016 coup, the number of “insult to the president” investigations and trials has soared.
“The charged of insulting the president was added to the penal code, but term not many people were charged in terms of that law. However since Erdogan’s term thousands of people have been found guilty of insulting the president,” Professor Akdeniz said.
Among those that have been found guilty of insulting the president are 53 journalists according to Reporters Without Borders.
Turkish human rights lawyer Kerem Altiparmak said a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) finding was very clear about the problems concerning the law on insulting the president.
“According to ECHR jurisprudence, the law cannot protect the president exceptionally. The law cannot be used the prerogative of the President,” Altıparmak explained, adding that Turkish courts do not follow ECHR guidance.
Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher Andrew Gardner said that there should be no ‘insulting the president’ crime.
“State officials should be open to criticism. Europe has similar crime definitions but no country implements it like Turkey. Thousands of ‘insulting president’ cases are filed in Turkey in an absurd manner,” Gardner complained.