Turkish rights record to be focus of emergency EU-Turkey membership talks

[JURIST] Turkey's bid for European Union membership could be further damaged by an unreleased report on the country's human rights record, a draft version of which was obtained by the Independent. The report condemns Turkey's refusal to compromise on free speech issues or to allow ships from Cyprus to dock in Turkish ports. An emergency negotiation session has been scheduled this weekend to address EU concerns. Earlier this week, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan [official website; BBC profile] said that his government has no plans to abolish Article 301 [Amnesty backgrounder] of the country's penal code, despite EU warnings [JURIST report] that the law infringes upon free speech.

Article 301 makes it a crime to insult the Turkish identity and has been used to prosecute human rights defenders, journalists and other members of civil society. Turkish novelists Elif Shafak [personal website], Hrant Dink [Armeniapedia profile] and Orhan Pamuk [JURIST news archive] have all been charged under Article 301 for discussing the alleged Armenian genocide [ANI backgrounder; Turkish DC Embassy backgrounder]. Shafak was acquitted and Pamuk's charges were dismissed [JURIST reports], while Dink faces a retrial [JURIST report]. The Independent has more.

 

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