The Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA), which monitored over 90 court sessions in 71 trials with the International Press Institute (IPI) in the second half of 2018, has released its “Justice Monitoring Report: Freedom of Expression Trials in Turkey”.

The association shared the results of its “Justice Monitoring Report” with the public in a press conference on 22nd of January 2019.

Media and Law Studies Association Co-Directors journalist Barış Altıntaş and attorney Veysel Ok presented the report, which provides objective and quantitative data on the efficiency of courts in Turkey as well as the state of the right to a fair trial in the country.

Stating that they are bringing together journalism and law as an association, Barış Altıntaş indicated that they have been advocating the journalists, activists and civil society workers who are put on trial.

“The right to a fair trial has completely disappeared after the coup attempt”

Taking the floor after Barış Altıntaş, Veysel Ok also emphasized,

“Though the problems regarding the right to a fair trial and freedom of expression did not arise after the coup attempt [on July 15, 2016], in the light of our report, we can easily say that the right to a fair trial has completely disappeared after the attempted coup.”

“This report that we have prepared proves it with data that there is no operating, effective justice system in Turkey.”

Stating that they monitored over 90 hearings throughout this year, Ok shared the following information from the report:

“Almost half of defendants behind bars”

“In the 90 sessions that we monitored, the defendants in 49 sessions were arrested. In other words, almost half of the journalists, writers and activists who are put on trial are in prison pending trial.

If you ask what these people who are arrested due to their expressions are being charged with, we can say that in the trials that we followed, 72 percent of the defendants face terror charges.

“In 77 percent of these cases, where these people are charged with ‘propagandizing for a terrorist organization’, the statements, articles, news or social media posts of the journalists and activists were cited as evidence.

“34 percent of defendants not brought to court”

“34 percent of these people were not brought to the courtroom. The place of residence of 40 percent of the arrested defendants and the courts where they are tried are located in different provinces and the courts do not bring the arrestees to the hearings by showing this as an excuse.

“Half of defendants arrested for more than a year”

“Another issue is the period of arrest. We have identified that more than half of those who are arrested because of their expressions have been behind bars for more than a year.

“In our report, we also have a sub-section entitled ‘the Panel’s Disrespectful Conduct’. In 27 percent of the court sessions that we monitored, the court board treated the defendants’ attorneys in a disrespectful manner. In 27 percent of the sessions, they also treated the defendants disrespectfully.

“Change of court board damages right to a fair trial”

“The fact that the court board has changed in almost half of the cases has shown us that there lies a malicious intent behind these cases. And it means that the right to an objective and fair trial has been damaged.”

Source: Bianet English: https://bianet.org/english/human-rights/204729-half-of-journalists-put-on-trial-behind-bars

To Read the full report: https://medyavehukuk.org/justice-monitoring-report.pdf