Seventeen international organizations defending freedom of expression and the press published a joint letter on Wednesday on the Index of Censorship website addressing all the Turkish presidential candidates in the upcoming elections on June 24.
“Your term starts in critical times. Freedom of expression in particular has declined drastically in the last couple of years in your country. To this day, more than 150 journalists remain in prison, thousands of critical thought leaders have lost their jobs and a large number of them have left the country,” the letter said.
Among the organizations undersigning the letter were the European Center for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), International Press Institute (IPI), World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the Danish, German, Norwegian, American and Swedish PEN.
The letter urged the future president to “uphold the rule of law and to protect and strengthen media freedom and independent journalism.”
Releasing all journalists in prison for exercising their right to freedom of expression, reforming the system of criminal law, ending state control of regulation of the media and supporting the independence and pluralism of the media were some of the priorities addressed to the future president of Turkey.
The organizations also mentioned the watchdogs over media, including Press and Advertising Agency (BİK), Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) and Turkish Telecommunication Authority (BTK), saying the new government should reform and assure their transparency.