Turkish ruling party proposes amendment to state slander provision

Turkish ruling party proposes amendment to state slander provision

[JURIST] Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website, in Turkish] Monday submitted to parliament a proposed amendment to the controversial Article 301 [Amnesty backgrounder; JURIST news archive] of Turkey's penal code [text, in Turkish], which makes "insulting the Turkish identity" a crime. The amendment was promised last fall [JURIST report] after critical comments from EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn. If approved by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey [official website, in Turkish], the amendment would re-characterize the crime of "insulting the Turkish identity" as insulting the "Turkish nation," reduce the maximum possible punishment from three years to two years in prison, and require the president's approval for any Article 301 prosecution.

Many prominent Turkish journalists, authors, and academics have been tried for insulting "Turkishness" [JURIST report] under Article 301. Critics accuse Turkey of using the law to silence government critics, making it a major stumbling block [JURIST report] to Turkey's accession to the European Union. AP has more.