LONDON: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on Turkey to stop prosecuting journalists, and to ensure that necessary safety precautions are taken in court to protect defendants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The international NGO, which is dedicated to protecting the rights of journalists worldwide, criticized Turkish plans to resume trials following a three-month suspension prompted by the pandemic.
“The sheer number of trials targeting Turkish journalists shows authorities’ contempt and hostility towards the media. This situation is even more unacceptable during the coronavirus pandemic,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza Said.
“Turkish authorities must stop putting journalists on trial for their reporting; if they will not drop their charges against members of the press, they must at least ensure journalists can attend court safely.”
Independent news website Bianet said court reporters in Istanbul have been concerned that courts are not properly following COVID-19 safety guidelines.
The reporters have said the pandemic has had a serious impact on the running of the courts, with many trials starting late and proper notes not being taken during trials.
Turkey is among the worst countries in the world for its treatment of journalists. According to Reporters Without Borders, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has waged a “witch-hunt” against journalists since the 2016 coup attempt.
The campaign of repression has earned Turkey the unenviable title of the world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists.