Protestors commemorate journalist Hrant Dink on the 11th anniversary of his assassination. Istanbul, Turkey. 19 January 2018. Editorial credit: Bilal Seckin /


President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) has ruled Turkey since 2002. After initially passing some liberalizing reforms, the AKP government showed growing contempt for political rights and civil liberties, and its authoritarian nature was fully consolidated following a 2016 coup attempt that triggered a dramatic crackdown on perceived opponents of the leadership. Constitutional changes adopted in 2017 concentrated power in the hands of the president. While Erdoğan exerts tremendous power in Turkish politics, opposition victories in 2019 municipal elections demonstrated that his authority was not unlimited.

Featured Research

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Freedom in the World — Turkey Country Report

Turkey is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2021, Freedom House's annual study of political rights and civil liberties worldwide.

In the high-stakes battle between states and technology companies, the rights of internet users have become the main casualties. Illustration by Mitch Blunt

Freedom on the Net— Turkey Country Report

Turkey is rated Not Free in Freedom on the Net, Freedom House's comprehensive study of internet freedom around the globe.

Turkey transnational repression case study

Turkey: Transnational Repression Case Study

The Turkish state’s current campaign of transnational repression is remarkable for its intensity, its geographic reach, and the suddenness with which it escalated.

Freedom House Programs in Turkey

Turkey remains one of most challenging places in the European region to exercise one’s right to free speech and expression. In 2019, it maintained its status as the world’s worst jailer of professional journalists. Many others, including writers, civil society activists, artists, political figures, leaders from marginalized communities, digital rights activists, and everyday citizens face widespread persecution for criticizing the government. Freedom House works to strengthen respect for freedom of expression in Turkey in partnership with a local organization, the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA). These joint efforts seek to bolster the number of qualified, practicing lawyers who can defend citizens’ fundamental right to free expression, produce research and policy analysis, and raise greater awareness among the international community on the crisis facing free speech in Turkey.


Turkey protest pic  Lawyers from Istanbul Bar Association gathered in front of the Bar Association building to support other Bar Associations whose protests were blocked.

Current Programs

Advancing Fundamental Freedoms in Turkey

Together with local partners, Freedom House’s programmatic work in Turkey aims to empower civil society to work collaboratively to protect human rights and freedoms enshrined in Turkey’s national and international obligations.

Turkey remains one of most challenging places in the European region to exercise fundamental freedoms. In this challenging environment, Freedom House seeks to empower civil society to contribute to the improvement of fundamental freedoms in Turkey and to advocate with national and international decision makers to uphold the country’s human rights commitments. This project aims to create a common ground for different civil society actors to address human rights issues in the country. Freedom House and its partners intend to respond threats to fundamental freedoms by providing litigation support, research and analysis, support for grassroots initiatives, and advocacy.

Learn more by visiting our Turkey program page. 

Featured Experts

Marc Behrendt Expert Photo

Marc Behrendt

Director, Europe and Eurasia programs