High time for Turkey to take concrete steps for press freedom, says the EFJ

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Europe's largest

organisation of journalists, today sends a strong support to its

journalists affiliates in Turkey following a two-day conference to defend

press freedom and freedom of speech.


"There is no real freedom of speech in Turkey", says Arne König, EFJ

president. "During these two days, we have witnessed many examples of

journalists and media workers being intimidated and the control public

authorities exercise over the media. Our colleagues can no longer work

under such pressure. Turkey must give evidence of its commitment towards

freedom of speech in its negotiations for EU membership and take concrete

steps to protect press freedom." said König.


To date, 29 journalists are detained in Turkey. Many of them have not

been  brought to trial. Many provisions of the

criminal and anti terror laws provide public authorities, the police and

the army with multiple means to silence the press  says the

EFJ.  Despite the deletion of the reference to "attacks

against  Turkishness" article 301 of the criminal code

still contains provisions that are used to censor the press.

The right to collectively bargain is narrowly limited  and only

applies in companies where unions represent more than

50% of the workforce.


" Journalists' unions should be able to bargain collectively with

media employers. Current rules should be lessen so that it becomes easier

to bargain. This is our priority." said Ercan Ipekçi, president of the Turkish  Union of Journalists TGS.


Since mid-February an ongoing strike at the Sabah newspaper

and ATV television  highlight the need for the right

to negotiate collective agreements in the

workplace. The EFJ joined its affiliates in a demonstration in central

Istanbul on 2 May to denounce the absence of collective bargaining in the

two media, both owned by the Turkuvaz Media Group.


The EFJ and TGS are part of a joint project to strengthen press

freedom in Turkey  which will support a series of activities

to strengthen press freedom in the