In a statement, they say that the legislation has been prepared behind closed doors by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and is now before parliament.
The legislation adds a new crime titled “distributing deceptive information publicly” to the criminal code with prison sentences. It also gives the administration new powers to sanction the media with fines, advertising bans and bandwidth throttling.
“If the bill becomes law, it will boost the systematic censorship and self-censorship in Turkey, instead of fighting disinformation. We call for its immediate withdrawal because a media law that fails to reflect the views of journalists and journalism organizations cannot solve the problem of disinformation”.
The organisations say they condemn the government’s failure to consult with them, instead doing so with US-based digital media companies during the months-long preparation process of this bill.
They also reject the bill as it cites “concepts such as “disinformation,” fake news,” “baseless information” and “distorted information” without providing legal definitions. It also refers to vague notions like “security,” “public order” and “public peace,” which have been repeatedly used against journalists in legal harassment cases, providing the court yet another crime for trial”.
The organisations in question are the Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS), International Press Institute’s (IPI) National Committee in Turkey, Association of Journalists, Progressive Journalists Association (PJA), Turkish Press Council, Haber-Sen and ?zmir Journalists Association (IGC).