UK Parliament urges foreign ministry to defend Turkey’s press freedom

A recent report by the UK Parliament urges stronger action by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to defend media freedom in several countries, including Turkey, where 136 journalists are currently behind bars, the Gazete Duvar news portal reported on Monday.

The report entitled “Media freedom is under attack: The FCO’s defense of endangered liberty,” which was published on Monday by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament, said the government must publicly shame and sanction those who attack the press.

Stating that the FCO has made defending media freedom its priority campaign for 2019, it was emphasized in the report that the ministry should do more in public to shame those who persecute the media, including Turkey.

Citing the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the committee indicated that around half of the 399 journalists, citizen journalists, and media workers currently jailed around the world are concentrated in China, Egypt, Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

Highlighting that severe reductions in media freedom have taken place in Turkey, the report added: “The journalists who wrote to us from there [to contribute to the report] were too fearful of reprisals to have their names or views published.”

“The FCO should designate Turkey a Human Rights Priority Country. It should criticize the violations taking place there publicly and forcefully,” the committee urged.

The report was prepared as a result of a months-long parliamentary inquiry into the FCO’s campaign, during which the Foreign Affairs Committee heard from dozens of witnesses, among them are leading members of the International Press Institute (IPI).

Using the data received from the IPI, a global organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of press freedom, the committee underlined that the ministry should take into consideration that there are currently 136 journalists imprisoned in Turkey.

According to the World Press Freedom Index report released in May by RSF, Turkey ranks 157th out of 180 countries, as in 2018.

Nearly 95 percent of the Turkish media is at the hands of pro-government groups, as the country also has the highest number of journalists in prisons.

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