Turkey: Complaint against YouTube block set for human rights judgement

Tomorrow (1 December), human rights judges will announce their judgement on a complaint against the decision of Turkish authorities to block the video viewing and sharing site YouTube.

Cengiz and Others v. Turkey (nos. 48226/10 and 14027/11)

The applicants, Serkan Cengiz, Yaman Akdeniz and Kerem Altıparmak, are Turkish nationals who were born in 1974, 1968 and 1973 respectively and live in İzmir, Istanbul and Ankara (Turkey). They all occupy academic positions in different universities, where they teach law.

Pursuant to a Law regulating Internet publications and combating Internet offences, the Ankara Criminal Court of First Instance ordered the blocking of access to YouTube on the ground that the website contained some ten videos which, under the legislation, were insulting to the memory of Atatürk.

Arguing that this restriction interfered with their right to freedom to receive or impart information and ideas, Cengiz, Akdeniz and Altıparmak challenged that decision and requested, in their capacity as users, that the measure be lifted.

They also alleged that the measure had had an impact on their professional academic activities. The Ankara Criminal Court of First Instance rejected their request on the ground that the blocking order had been imposed in accordance with the law and that the applicants did not have standing to challenge such decisions.

The Ankara Criminal Court upheld that decision.

In total the YouTube website was blocked from 5 May 2008 to 30 October 2010, when the blocking order was lifted by the public prosecutor’s office following a request from the company owning copyright of the videos in question.

Relying on Article 10 (freedom of expression), the applicants complain of an infringement of their right to freedom to receive and impart information and ideas.

Relying on Article 6 (right to a fair hearing), they complain that they did not have an effective judicial remedy enabling them to have the measure reviewed by the courts and have possible abuse by the authorities censured.

Relying on Article 46 (binding force and execution of judgments), the applicants request the Court to indicate to the Turkish Government which general measures could be taken to put an end to the situation complained of.

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