Journalists’ Union Reports Alarming Press Freedom Decline in Turkey

The report's cover features a photo, showing a journalist while holding a placard that reads "We can't make ends meet" in Turkish.

The Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS) has released its 2024 Press Freedom Report in English, highlighting the severe economic, political and social challenges faced by journalists in the country.

TGS announced today that this year’s Press Freedom Report focused on the pervasive poverty among journalists, who are often forced to work for low wages, endure long hours, and operate without union protections. TGS emphasizes that economic vulnerability and the decline in editorial independence are interconnected issues, crucial to understanding the state of press freedom.

The report includes the findings from a “poverty survey,” detailing the financial struggles of journalists. It also categorizes various forms of interference in press freedom, such as imprisonment, legal prosecutions, and physical attacks on journalists. The report provides comprehensive data, including the number of imprisoned journalists, the distribution of alleged crimes, and the status of detentions and investigations over the past year.

Key statistics from the report reveal that, between April 2023 and April 2024, at least 55 journalists were imprisoned in Turkey. As of April 1, 2024, 13 journalists remain behind bars, with 4 under arrest and 8 convicted. The report also notes that 69 journalists were detained, 74 detentions occurred, and journalists spent a total of 153 hours in custody. Additionally, 264 journalists were tried in 126 criminal cases, resulting in sentences totaling 55 years, 11 months, and 21 days.

Crackdown on Independent Media With Digital Censorship and Fines

The TGS report also addresses digital censorship, detailing access blockages and web content removals, as well as interventions targeting independent media by highly politicized regulatory bodies like The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) and the Press Advertising Institution (BİK).

RTÜK imposed administrative fines, totaling 40,744,956 Turkish Liras (approximately €1.16 million), while BİK continued to ignore the 2022 decision of Turkey’s Constitutional Court, which ruled that the arbitrary fines it imposed violated the freedom of the press. The TGS report also highlights legal amendments affecting journalists and significant economic instability within the media sector.

Despite these challenges, TGS said it remains active in promoting unionization and advocating for journalists’ rights. The report concludes with a call to address the economic precarity of journalists, emphasizing the need for stronger collective rights and protections.


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