European Court of Human Rights fined Turkey for suspension of two weekly papers
17 June 2010Europeac Court of Human Rights has condemned Turkey for the suspension for one month of Yedinci Gün and Toplumsal Demokrasi
The European Court of Human Rights has condemned Turkey for the suspension for one month of two weekly newspapers, Yedinci Gün and Toplumsal Demokrasi. The application to the Court was made by owners, executive directors, editors-in-chief, news directors and journalists of the two weekly newspapers. The publication of those newspapers was suspended for a month in January 2008 on the basis of a law for the prevention of terrorism (Law no. 3713). The applicants were criminally prosecuted for disseminating terrorist-aligned propaganda; the proceedings in their cases are still pending at first instance.
Relying on Article 10 of the Convention, the applicants complained about the suspension of the publication and distribution of the newspapers concerned, which they claimed amounted to censorship. Further, relying on Articles 6 (right to a fair hearing), 7 (no punishment without law), 13 (right to an effective remedy), and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property) of the Convention, the applicants complained about the unfairness of the proceedings before the first instance court
The application was lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on 08 February 2008.
Judgment was given by a Chamber of seven judges. The Court first noted that it had recently examined an identical complaint, in the case of Ürper and Others v. Turkey, in which it had found a violation of Article 10. It then saw no particular circumstances in the present case requiring it to depart from the previously drawn conclusions. The Court observed that the suspension of the publication and distribution had not been imposed on concrete news reports or articles, but on the future publication of entire newspapers, whose content had been unknown at the time of the national court’s decision. Therefore, the Court concluded that the preventive effect sought with that suspension had resulted in implicit sanctions on the applicants to dissuade them from publishing similar articles in the future and thus hinder their professional activities.
The Court found that less draconian measures could have been envisaged, such as the confiscation of particular issues of the newspapers or the restriction on the publication of specific articles. Consequently, by suspending the publication and distribution of the newspapers, even for a short period of time, the domestic courts had unjustifiably restricted the essential role of the press as a public watchdog in a democratic society. In addition, the practice of banning the future publication of entire periodicals on the basis of domestic law had gone beyond any notion of “necessary” restraint in a democratic society and, instead, had amounted to censorship.
Accordingly, there had been a violation of Article 10 of the Convention.
The Court considered that there was no need to make a separate ruling on the complaints under the other Articles, since it had examined the main legal question raised under Article 10.
Under Article 41 (just satisfaction) of the Convention, the Court held that Turkey had to pay to each applicant 1,800 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and 1,000 euros (EUR) jointly for costs and expenses.
ANF / STRASBOURG
ANF NEWS AGENCY