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Turkey / Freedom of expression: UN human rights expert to assess current situation

GENEVA / ANKARA (14 November 2016) – United Nations Special Rapporteur David Kaye is carrying out his first official visit to Turkey this week to assess the situation of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in the country.

“Turkey faces a number of challenges right now,” said the independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on violations of the right to freedom of opinion and expression across the world. “To be sure, the attempted coup in July was roundly criticized by individuals across the political spectrum in Turkey, for good reason. It was clearly an assault on democratic institutions and governance.”

“However, both before and after the attempted coup, the space for critical voices, academics, journalists, lawyers and others in civil society has been under threat,” Mr. Kaye noted. “These are among the key issues I will study during my stay in the country.”

“The visit will be an important opportunity for me to gather first-hand information on the independence of the media and the safety of journalists, activists and academics, as well as the measures taken to ensure public debate in the country,” the expert said, recalling that a previous mission* to assess freedom of expression in Turkey was conducted in 1996 by the then Special Rapporteur, Abid Hussain.

The Special Rapporteur, who visits the country at the invitation of the Turkish Government, will meet with authorities from the legislative, executive and judicial powers. He will also hold discussions with civil society representatives.

Mr. Kaye will prepare a report to the Human Rights Council on the main findings of his visit, and make recommendations on the promotion of the right to freedom of expression in Turkey.

The human rights expert will host a press conference to share his preliminary conclusions and observations on his visit to Turkey on Friday 18 November 2016, at 12:00 in Ankara. Further details to follow. Access to the press conference will be strictly limited to journalists.

(*) Check the 1996 report on Turkey by the previous Special Rapporteur: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=E/CN.4/1997/31/Add.1

Mr. David Kaye (USA) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in August 2014 by the United Nations Human Rights Council. As Special Rapporteur, Mr. Kaye is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/OpinionIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – Turkey: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/TRIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact:
In Ankara (during the visit): Mr. Stefano Sensi and Ms. Azin Tadjdini (+90 539 381 2112)
In Geneva (after the visit): please contact Mr. Stefano Sensi (+41 22 917 9237 / ssensi@ohchr.org), Ms. Azin Tadjdini (+41 22 917 9400 / atadjdini@ohchr.org) or write to freedex@ohchr.org.

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Mr. Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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