Freedom of the Press in Turkish Law

Changes in the field of law are issues that need to be followed for individuals to make better use of the laws and, at the same time, be protected from sanctions. Freedom of the Press in Turkish law is one of these issues. In addition, according to the Turkish Constitution, the articles on free speech and freedom of the press are directly related. 

As Istanbul Lawyer Firm lawyers, we provide the best service concerning the current laws put into effect regarding the rights of journalists and publishers. Freedom of the press is an issue that has found its place in the Constitution.

At the same time, the concepts of freedom of the press and freedom of expression are interrelated because publishing is a profession based on journalists' research and their comments. 

Laws Regarding Freedom of Speech

One of the articles of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey that sheds light on the freedom of expression, including the freedom of the press, is Article 25 because the “Freedom of thought and opinion” part of freedom of expression is clarified in Article 25.

Another Constitutional article regarding Freedom of the press is Article 26. This Article should be examined. Because it contains a narrative about how freedom of expression can be realized.

In Article 26, in Chapter 8, with the title ”Freedom of expression and dissemination of thought", it is stated that everyone has the right to express their thoughts individually or collectively through writing, pictures, or other media. It is possible to understand that journalists can freely express their ideas through printing.

Freedom of Speech and Self-Publishing 

There are restrictions on freedom of expression in the Freedom of the press area. Because due to Articles 301 and 302 of the Constitution, there is an inspection of the expressions in the press. Just as written works from abroad can be censored, the press in Turkey can also be censored. In Articles 301 and 302, situations that fall into the field of Turkish Criminal Law arise if:

  • Openly humiliating the state or law enforcement officials
  • Provoking rebellion
  • Publishing things that do not comply with the general morality of the public.

The concept of self-publishing can be explained by the definition of “Owner of the Material” according to Law No. 5187: “The individual who writes the news or the text which forms the content of the periodical or the non-periodical, the translator or the person who produces the image or the cartoon.”

The press is free. However, there are situations in which it is censored, as mentioned above. It is necessary to mention another law on Freedom of the press. The disinformation law is explained as ”spreading misinformation on purpose". 

In addition, there are criminal sanctions under this law. Journalists can be given a maximum limited prison sentence of 3 years. In addition, if an anonymous source is used while reporting, journalists will also be punished. In the same way, if it is found that the person who is the source of the news is part of an illegal organization, the penalty is increased by 50%. This law is one of the cases that creates an exception to the freedom of the pressing issue.

Journalism and Freedom of Speech

The explanation of Article 28 of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, “Freedom of the Press” is as follows: “The press is free, and shall not be censored. The establishment of a printing house shall not be subject to prior permission or the deposit of a financial guarantee.” Also, in the continuation of the Article, “The State shall take the necessary measures to ensure freedom of the press and information. In the limitation of freedom of the press, the provisions of articles 26 and 27 of the Constitution shall apply.” statements are included.

However, under the Disinformation Law regarding Article 28, a change may occur as mentioned above. The definition of disinformation law in question can be made with the following expressions: “Anyone who publicly disseminates false information regarding internal and external security, public order and the general welfare of the country, in a way that breaches the public peace, simply to create anxiety, fear or panic among the population.”

Laws Regarding the Freedom of the Press

The Swedish parliament passed the first official law on freedom of the press worldwide in 1766. The rights of journalists and freedom of the media in Turkey are guaranteed by the 77th article of the 1924 Constitution. 

Reducing the sanctions on the press and increasing the freedom area in Turkey took place chronologically. With the 28th article of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, the definition of freedom in the press field has been realized, as well as freedom of expression.

Press law No. 5187 was officially amended on October 18, 2022. Besides in addition to the Turkish Penal Code No. 5237, the following laws have been amended:

  • Law No. 5651 law on the regulation of publications on the internet and suppression of crimes committed by means of such publications
  • Electronic Communication Law No. 5809

According to these changes, journalism carried out through news sites on the Internet is defined as “periodicals".

In addition, with the newly added law, the content published on news sites must be kept for 2 years without regulation. Also, bulletins in newspaper announcement sections can be included on news websites. With the regulation, it has now become mandatory for the Turkish person responsible for the SNP of news sites to also reside in Turkey. Article 28 of the Amendment Law will become effective on April 1, 2023, with exceptions.

By consulting our Turkish criminal lawyers you can get detailed information about the developments in the field of press and request legal advice. Our law firm, which consists of experts in their fields, provides services in case files related to the subject.

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