OSCE calls on Turkey to review “disinformation” bill in line with its media freedom commitments
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) called on Turkey to review its “disinformation” bill in order to fully align with its commitments over media freedom.
“Any legislation that potentially limits free speech should strongly respect the principles of necessity and proportionality in line with international standards and OSCE commitments,” said Teresa Ribeiro, the organization’s representative on freedom of the media on Monday.
Raising concern over the bill that criminalises the “fake” news online, Ribeiro urged Turkish lawmakers to carefully assess and review the provisions of the bill in order to ensure safeguards for independent journalism and free expression.
Last week Turkish parliament started debating a controversial bill introducing prison sentences up to three years for “disinformation”. The bill that was heavily criticised for creating a censorship mechanism and seen as a move of the government to further tighten its grip on dissident, was proposed to the parliament by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its far-right ally, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). If the parliament approves the legislation containing of 40 articles, those who are deemed to have “publicly disseminated false information regarding national security, public order, or general public health that creates anxiety, fear, or panic among the population or disturbs public peace,” will face prison sentences of between one and three years.
“I recognise that disinformation poses serious challenges to our societies in today’s fast-growing digital environment, nevertheless, the vague definitions and broad scope of the newly proposed legislation can lead to arbitrary and politically motivated actions at the expense of free speech and media pluralism,” Ribeiro said.
“The most effective means to counter disinformation is to ensure timely access to information, promote media plurality, media and information literacy among the wider public as well as independent and transparent fact-checking,” OSCE representative said.