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On 5 November the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and its affiliates marked  ‘Stand Up for Journalism Day’ and its adopted the motto “journalism as a public good” to rekindle the spirit of mission and solidarity in journalists’ work. In Brussels, the day was used to launch a solidarity campaign with the Turkish Journalists Union (TGS), whose members constantly face a climate of fear and intimidation. The EFJ handed over a letter of protest to Mr. Selim Kuneralp, the Turkish permanent representative to the European Union and demanded his government immediately release 50 journalists currently in Turkish jails. In Britain the NUJ’s general secretary Jeremy Dear sent a letter to the Turkish ambassador supporting the stand taken by the EFJ and also calling on the Turkish government to release the 50 journalists and to stop limiting freedom of expression.

In their 2009 annual report Amnesty International stated that, “Reports of torture and other ill-treatment rose during 2008, especially outside official places of detention but also in police stations and prisons.” The government limited freedom of expression through the use of constitutional restrictions and numerous laws including articles of the penal code. All this despite a report from the UN that Turkey had adopted universal standards, speeded by the ratification of the international conventions and intensified the training of law enforcement personnel and other civil servants since it started negotiating to join the EU in 2005.

Clearly there is a disconnection between the introduction of reforms and their implementation and it is hoped that the European Commission will also put pressure on Turkey to carry out the reforms promised, release the 50 journalists and stop limiting freedom of expression.

Further information: Stand Up for Journalism:
Turkey Campaign: