Turkish Constitutional Court rejects CHP's bid to annul controversial 'Censorship Law'

Turkish Constitutional Court rejects CHP's bid to annul controversial 'Censorship Law'
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Press professional organizations vow to continue their fight for free speech as the court upholds Article 217/A of the Turkish Penal Code.

The Turkish Constitutional Court has rejected the CHP (Republican People's Party's) application to annul and suspend the execution of Article 217/A, colloquially known as the 'censorship law.' The contentious article was appended to the TCK (Turkish Penal Code) via Article 29 of Law No. 7418, which pertains to amendments to the Press Law and other laws.

In a controversial decision, the court's General Assembly voted not to annul the regulation, which allows the imprisonment of individuals who "publicly disseminate misleading information" for 1 to 3 years. The decision was narrowly passed with a majority of 8 votes against 6.

Press professional organizations were quick to express their dissatisfaction with the ruling. Gokhan Durmus, President of the TGS (Journalists' Union of Turkey), stated, "The article on censorship of the press was not rejected here today. The Constitutional Court members ignored the Constitution. But this is not the end for journalists. We will continue our struggle until we make our pens free."

Kenan Sener, President of the Association of Journalists, echoed these sentiments: "We are worried that these investigations will increase. The fact that the decision was not made until the evening raises suspicion. Our main goal is to fulfill the public's right to information and to prevent journalists from being arrested. Citizens must take care of journalists now. As journalists, we will continue to stand together and fight."

Press professional organizations, including the Press Council, CGD, Journalists' Association, TGS, and Haber Sen, held a vigil before the Constitutional Court, asking for the annulment of Article 217/A, which they argue leads to arbitrary accusations against journalists.

The so-called 'anti-disinformation law' - the 29th article of Law No. 7418 - added Article 217/A to the Turkish Penal Code, creating the crime of "publicly disseminating misleading information" and imposing a sentence of 1 to 3 years for those who commit this offense.