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    CoE says Turkey's Article 301 amendments fall short

    Hurriyet English
    02.05.2008 - 15:37 | Son Güncelleme:

    The Council of Europe welcomed the recent amendments to the controversial Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) which criminalized insulting "Turkishness," but added the amendment doesn't alleviate all its concerns.

    Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis said in a written statement he released on Friday, the recent amendments to Article 301 of  the TCK which criminalizes insults to the Turkish nation testify to the readiness of the Turkish authorities to review their legislation against the background of their obligations as a member of the Council of Europe and a party to the European Convention on Human Rights. 

    “This is to be welcomed. However, although an analysis of the new wording indicates some progress in this respect, it does not alleviate all concerns about excessive restrictions of the freedom of expression, as guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights," he added.

    Davis said the decisive test of compliance with Council of Europe standards will be the interpretation of the new Article 301 by the Turkish courts, and the Council will follow the situation very closely.

    The Turkish Parliament passed a bill on Wednesday on the amendments to Article 301. The term "Turkishness" was replaced by the "Turkish nation," and the term "Republic" with "State of the Republic of Turkey," under the amendment.

    The Turkish justice minister was mandated to approve any prosecution under the law. The bill also lowered the maximum punishment from three to two years, opening the way for the postponement of the prison term of those convicted under the controversial Article 301.

    The European Union has been calling on Turkey to amend Article 301, which has been the basis for charges against Turkish writers and journalists including Hrant Dink, Elif Safak and Orhan Pamuk.   

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