In an important ruling today, the European Court of Human Rights ruled unanimously that Turkey violated the right to freedom of expression of three Turkish academics by blocking access to YouTube for two years between May 2008 and October 2010. Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake (ALDE/D66) considers the judgment a confirmation of concerns she has frequently voiced about the regress in the rule of law in Turkey. "This unanimous judgment comes at a crucial moment. And should also send a clear signal to Commission Vice-President Timmermans who seems only interested in making a deal with Erdogan to prevent refugees from coming to out territory. EU political leaders remain too silent about violations of human rights in Turkey." "The court makes clear that a blanket ban on YouTube is a clear violation of the right to receive and impart information, which is a crucial aspect of freedom of speech in our digital age. The judgment sends another clear message that Turkey is really damaging itself by adopting disproportionate laws and practices that allow the blocking of entire internet sites". Youtube The court further observed that Youtube is a particularly important platform because it enabled information on political and social matters to be broadcast by citizen journalists, which would otherwise not be broadcasted. Schaake: "This situation is perhaps even more true today than it was five years ago. "With increased censorship and active intimidation of journalists in Turkey, digital alternatives are essential alternatives for different voices to be heard." Schaake has been a vocal critic of Turkey´s human rights record. Accession criteria Schaake stresses that unrestricted access to an open internet is an integral part of the Copenhagen criteria that the EU asks candidate countries to fulfil. Schaake: “Digital freedoms have become entrenched in the EU’s standards for protecting human rights and freedoms. These should also be respected and embraced by countries that aspire for EU membership. Sadly, also more traditional human rights are under threat in Turkey, with dozens of journalists behind bars.” Upon request of the ALDE Group the Commission and Council will debate the deal reached with Turkey tomorrow at 15:00 in European Parliament.
See also on Turkey:Media (Euronews: The Network) – Are refugees or civil rights the priority in Turkey? 26-10 Media (France24, Talking Europe) – The EU and Turkey: Who needs whom more? 20-10 Blog (Project Syndicate) – Talking Tough to Turkey 23-10 Letter to President Juncker and High Representative Mogherini concerning the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan 12-10 Written Questions on halting the broadcast of tv channels in Turkey 01-09 Written Questions on press freedom in Turkey 08-06 MEP: Turkish election results offer opportunity to improve EU-Turkey relations 21-05 MEP: Turkey must reverse authoritarian trend to remain a key EU partner 20-05 Plenary debate on the 2014 Progress Report on Turkey 22-04 MEPs: We must defend all those standing on the front-line for free speech in Turkey 07-04 Media (CNN) – Schaake: Turkey internet blockade is bad for business 06-04 Media (Bloomberg) – Facebook, Twitter to Appeal as Turkey Blocks Social Media 31-03 MEP responds to acquittal 236 suspects in Balyoz/Sledgehammer case