[JURIST] Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website, in Turkish] is taking steps to weaken the rule of law, control Internet and media, and suppress critics and protesters, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [text] Monday. HRW tracked the government’s response to recent developments and made recommendations that focus on four areas: improving rights to secure the Kurdish peace process; reforming the criminal justice system; ending impunity for past and present abuses by state officials and for violence against women; and ending restrictions on speech, media and Internet, to protect free expression, association and assembly. According to HRW the rollback of human rights and rule of law in Turkey is linked to the anti-government protests in 2013 and corruption allegations of the AKP government. In the government’s response to political opposition, HRW clams it has dismissed criticism of human rights and freedoms. The report offers recommendations for reform.
Earlier this month President Recep Tayyip Erdogan [BBC profile] approved [JURIST report] a law that tightens the government control of the Internet and expands the powers of the telecoms authority. In February legislation passed [JURIST report] that made it easier for authorities to block access to webpages without a court order. The new law furthers those powers, allowing Turkey’s Telecommunications Directorate to block sites if deemed necessary for matters of “national security, the restoration of public order and the prevention of crimes.” Internet freedom [JURIST backgrounder] remains a controversial issue worldwide.