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European Court of Human Rights: Court Rules Turkey Violated Press Rights

(Oct. 26, 2009) On October 20, 2009, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) unanimously ruled that Turkish government actions in closing four newspapers had violated provisions on press freedom in European human rights legislation. (Case of Ăśrper and Others v. Turkey, Oct. 20, 2009, ECHR website, available at
.) The newspapers involved were shut down between November 2006 and October 2007, for periods of 15 days to a month, for allegedly printing propaganda for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (known as the PKK). Turkey has designated the PKK a terrorist group. (Dwyer Arce, Europe Rights Court Rules Turkish Authorities Violated Press Freedom, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST, Oct. 22, 2009, available at

The ECHR decision stated that government actions violated article 10, on freedom of the press, of the European Convention on Human Rights and that by suspending publication, the watchdog role of the press was unduly restricted. (Convention text available from the Council of Europe website, Sept. 2003, available at
.) More lenient measures could have been taken, it was argued, including confiscating particular issues or bans on publishing certain articles. Questions about freedom of the press in Turkey are among the issues being considered in connection with Turkey's bid to join the European Union. (Arce, supra.)