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Turkey: Experts examine new internet restrictions

New Turkish restrictions on internet use are under examination by Council of Europe experts.

Communication Director Daniel Holtgen confirmed that the changes, approved by Turkey’s parliament last week, “may raise issues” under Article 10 of the European Convention On Human Rights.

He added: “That is why the Council of Europe experts are analysing it. Depending on the outcome, we will take it up with the authorities.”

The Commissioner for Human Rights has already made clear his own view on Turkey’s internet restraints.

“The amendments approved yesterday by the Turkish Parliament toughen the restrictions already in place on the Internet and further limit channels for free expression in the country,” Nils Muižnieks wrote on 6 February.

“By extending the grounds for restricting access to websites, and significantly expanding the powers of the Presidency of Telecommunication and Communication, they go in the opposite direction to the previous recommendations of my Office to Turkey regarding freedom of expression on the Internet.

“They raise new concerns in terms of compatibility with European human rights standards on freedom of expression and freedom of the media, data protection, as well as access to effective domestic remedies when these rights are violated. The hasty and opaque manner in which these amendments have been pushed through the Parliament, without any genuine consultation of the major stakeholders, is also regrettable.

“The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media outlined her concerns in an assessment of these amendments published last week (http://www.osce.org/fom/110884). I fully share these concerns.

“I urge the Turkish authorities to reconsider them and amend the Internet legislation in a way that would foster freedom of expression online, not limit it further.”

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