Turkey: Two articles of the “censorship bill” pass in National Assembly

Turkey: Two articles of the “censorship bill” pass in National Assembly
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The opposition deputies fiercely criticized the draft law saying it will restrict further the media freedom in Turkey which is already in shatters

Turkey’s National Assembly began debating a media bill on Monday that is criticized by the opposition for intensifying a crackdown on critical reporting.

Two articles of the “Censorship bill” as it came to be known in the general public have already passed in the general assembly where opponent deputies fought fiercely against the ruling block saying the bill will clamp down on media freedom. 

The two articles gave internet news media the status of “media organization covered by widespread distribution” and its workers the right to have a press card. 

The government says the proposed law aims to tackle "disinformation" in the press and social media. One concern among the critics is an article in the bill which brings a prison sentence of one to three years for people who “spread false information about Turkey's security to create fear and disturb public order will face.”

A draft for the bill was first sent to the parliament by the ruling AKP (Justica and Development Party) and ultra nationalist MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) in May but debate was postponed to allow for further consultation after growing protests. 

"It is one of the heaviest censorship regulations in the history of the Republic (of Turkey). It is an attempt to destroy the press," the Diyarbakir office of the Turkish Journalists' Union said in a letter calling on political parties to withdraw the bill.

"If this law is implemented in this form, there will be no freedom of press, expression and communication in our country," said Kemal Aktas, chairman of the Turkish parliamentary reporters.