Fundamental Freedoms in Turkey
Freedom House works to assist civil society to defend and advance fundamental freedoms and rights enshrined in Turkey’s national and international obligations.
Advancing Fundamental Freedoms in Turkey
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.
- Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA)
- Freedom Research Association (FRA)
- Civic Space Studies Association (CSSA)
Policy Brief Series: Call for Proposals for Advancing Fundamental Freedoms in Turkey
Freedom House seeks perspectives from independent researchers on issues concerning the upcoming Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled to be held in June 2023. Although the elections are not to be held for almost another year, political parties in Turkey are already in preparation for what is expected to be an arduous campaign. In March 2022, Turkey’s parliament passed a comprehensive and controversial new election law in a party-line vote. Although the law lowered the election threshold from 10% of the national vote to 7%, it raised some concerns over election security and fair representation. According to the Venice Commission, the law harms smaller, newer, and opposition parties’ chances in elections. The recent changes to the law raised the eyebrows of elections experts and international organizations. The policy brief will help identify challenges and possible solutions and build public awareness about them.
Featured Program Publications
The Impact of Turkey’s Recent Amendments to the Electoral Laws on Fundamental Freedoms and Electoral Integrity
The fifth policy brief of the “Advancing Fundamental Freedoms in Turkey” policy series, focuses on the amendments to the Law on Elections before the June 2023 elections. “The Impact of Turkey’s Recent Amendments to the Electoral Laws on Fundamental Freedoms and Electoral Integrity” discusses the problematic changes that have been adopted by the Turkish Parliament undermining fundamental freedoms and electoral participation in Turkey. Expert Başak Bozkurt offers recommendations to civil society organizations, the media, opposition parties, international organizations, and social media companies on how to protect electoral integrity following the adoption of these amendments.
The Systematic Decline of the Freedom of Expression in Turkey
In the fourth policy brief of the “Advancing Fundamental Freedoms in Turkey,” author İpek Z. Ruacan investigates the systematic decline of freedom of expression in Turkey through the lens of anti-terrorism legislation and culture wars.
"Smart" Repression at work: Shrinking Space for Academic Freedom in Turkey
The third brief of the “Advancing Fundamental Freedoms in Turkey” policy series focuses on the increasing crackdown on academia and shrinking space for academic freedom in Turkey. Political scientist İlker Kalın places the government’s attempts to silence academia and civil society into a broad perspective by introducing the concept of “smart” repression. The brief investigates the government’s systematic repression through simulated democratic actions and discusses its implications.
Withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention:
War on Gender Equality in Turkey
The second policy brief of the “Advancing Fundamental Freedoms in Turkey” policy series, focuses on the reasons behind Turkey’s attempted withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention while also analyzing the withdrawal decision from a legal perspective. Experts Berfu Şeker and Ezel Buse Sönmezocak reveal the ruling AKP’s long-lasting anti-gender policies and examine potential impacts of the attempted withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention on women’s rights and LGBT+ rights.
Stifling Lawyers and Bar Associations:
Restrictions undermining the right to legal defense in Turkey
Experts Benan Molu and İdil Özcan examine the increasing attacks on lawyers and their right to free association in Turkey since the state of emergency in 2016. This brief provides a comprehensive analysis of how the recent government policies and legislation create obstacles for lawyers to fully perform their fundamental duties of legal counsel and defense.
Past Programming in Turkey
Protection of Freedom of Expression in Turkey (2019-2020)
Featured Report: Perceptions towards Freedom of Expression in Turkey
In July 2020, Freedom House, together with RIWI Corp, released a new report on freedom of expression and the media in Turkey. The presence of a vibrant landscape for free expression may seem contradictory, given that Turkey regularly tops global charts for the number of journalists jailed, and is ranked as Not Free in Freedom in the World. This report reveals opportunities for free expression among Turkey's dynamic population, where preferences are shifting from traditional outlets to online platforms. From these contradictions rise not only a clearer picture of the contours of expression, but also hope that this fundamental right can still be exercised.
Interventions for the 2022 OSCE Warsaw Human Dimension Conference
Testimony and remarks
September 26, 2022
Turkey: Detention of Saturday Mothers Represents Arbitrary, Unlawful Crackdown on Peaceful Dissent
June 27, 2022
Transnational Repression Threatens Freedom Worldwide
Turkey’s Gezi Trial Verdict a Travesty of Justice
April 26, 2022
Turkey: Authorities Abdicate Responsibility, Deny Justice in Khashoggi Case
April 8, 2022