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More than 36,000 people under criminal investigation for insulting President Erdoan in 2019

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoan

The number of people investigated for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoan is increasing every year, with 36,066 people under criminal investigation in 2019, the daily Birgn reported.

Since Erdoan assumed the presidential office in 2014, thousands of people have been sentenced to prison terms for insulting him – 2,046 in 2018 and 3,831 in 2019. Article 299 of the Turkish Criminal Code (TCK ) stipulates that anyone who insults the President of the Republic faces a prison sentence of up to four years. This penalty can be increased by one sixth if it has national exposure and by one third if it is committed by the press or the media. A total of 9,554 people were sentenced to prison for insulting the president.

According to these figures, 318 minors between 12 and 17 years old were the subject of criminal investigations under the presidency of Erdoan for insulting the head of state, while 30 were sentenced to suspended or suspended prison sentences. call. Four minors were sent to juvenile detention centers.

In a 2016 opinion, the Venice Commission had Noted with concern the large number of inquiries, prosecutions or convictions reported by the press, for insulting the president. He recalled that the European Commission, in its 2015 report on Turkey, pointed out that there was a widespread practice of prosecution for alleged insulting the president launched against journalists, writers, social media users and other members of the public, which could result in prison terms, conditional sentences or punitive fines. According to the same report, this intimidating climate has led to increased self-censorship.

According to the Venice Commission, the use of offensive, shocking or disturbing words, especially in the context of a debate on matters of public interest, is guaranteed by freedom of expression. Expressions that may be perceived in the abstract as denigrating, such as thief (as part of a corruption investigation) or murderer (in relation to protesters who lost their lives during the Gezi protests), dictator and others should be assessed in their public debate context.

In 2019, a bus driver was investigated for allegedly insulting President Erdoan by putting a newspaper with a full-page photo of the president on the stairs of his bus. The driver was called to the police station for questioning after a passenger traveling from Ankara to Burdur on February 24 filed a complaint against the driver.

Veteran Turkish actors Metin Akpnar (77) and Mjdat Gezen (75) have been accused of insulting the president in remarks made on a television show in December 2018. Akpnar and Gezen face between a year, two months and four years and eight months. imprisonment for guilt.

According to the human rights lawyerKerem Altparmak, more than 100,000 Turkish citizens have been investigated for insulting President Erdoan and more than 30,000 court cases have been opened. According to Altparmak, article 299 of the Turkish penal code on insults to the Turkish president goes against the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Turkey is a party, and should be canceled. The offense of insulting the head of state has been decriminalized in several European countries, and although it is still part of the penal code of Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal, it does not there have been no recent convictions.

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