Turkey: The potential repercussions of the “disinformation bill” on human rights are causing growing concern

Date:

 

The potential repercussions of the "disinformation bill"

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • Saturday, October 15, 2022.
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • One of the changes is a penal code modification that creates prison terms of up to three years for “publicly distributing false information” on online forums.

  • Under international human rights law, freedom of expression applies to “information and ideas of all types,” both online and offline.

  • Allowable abuse Because of the changes, Ms. Hurtado stressed, there is a room for “arbitrary, subjective interpretation and abuse.”

  • Expression rights are at stake. Volker Türk’s office said it was sad that the laws were written and passed without meaningful input from the media and civil society.

  • Ms. Hurtado said, “We want Turkey to fully uphold the international law guarantee of the right to free speech.”

One of the changes is a penal code modification that creates prison terms of up to three years for “publicly distributing false information” on online forums.

Under international human rights law, freedom of expression applies to “information and ideas of all types,” both online and offline. It is not just restricted to “truthful” information. Marta Hurtado, a spokesperson for the UN Rights Office, said in a statement that restrictions on the right to free speech should only be made for good reasons.

Allowable abuse

Because of the changes, Ms. Hurtado stressed, there is a room for “arbitrary, subjective interpretation and abuse.”

She stressed that the changes “risk further restricting people’s rights to seek, receive, and share information, as guaranteed by article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Turkey is a party,” and that they also risk giving journalists and people who fight for human rights new ways to be punished and making people more likely to self-censor themselves.

Expression rights are at stake

Volker Türk’s office said it was sad that the laws were written and passed without meaningful input from the media and civil society. It also reminded Türkiye that legal and regulatory frameworks with a wide range of possible scope and effects should only be passed after many public discussions.

“In any democracy, people must be able to speak out and get information in order to take part in public and political life.” Ms. Hurtado said, “We want Turkey to fully uphold the international law guarantee of the right to free speech.”

Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network

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