Minister Ergin: No more closure of newspapers with new judicial reform

March 27, 2012, Tuesday/ 13:51:00

Countering criticism over a recent court decision to halt the publication of the Özgür Gündem newspaper for a month, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin has said a government-backed judicial reform package will abolish a provision that stipulates the closure of publications under certain conditions.

The judicial reform package introduces nearly 100 amendments to the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), the Code on Criminal Procedure (CMK), the Counterterrorism Law (TMK) and the Enforcement and Bankruptcy Law. Ergin said the package will abolish a TMK provision that grants courts the right to discontinue publications for a certain period of time.

“We do not want such problems to occur in Turkey again. We decided to enact such a reform since we see such a problem with press freedoms. Once this reform becomes law, this problem will be done away with,” he said during an interview with NTV news broadcaster on Tuesday.

He added that further measures to strengthen freedom of expression and the press will be included in another reform package on which his ministry is working.

Facing charges of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization,” the Özgür Gündem daily, which is accused of having ties to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), will be closed for a month on the order of the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court. The court ruled on Sunday that the daily's news reports on pages one, eight, nine, 10 and 11 of last week's Sunday and Monday editions constituted propaganda in support of the terrorist organization and ordered that police recall all printed copies.

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