Turkey must speed up its reforms of legislation such as the sweeping anti-terrorism laws under which dozens of journalists have been jailed, the head of the Council of Europe said on Tuesday, February 5, according to Reuters.
Since coming to power in 2002, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has earned praise for reforms aimed at bringing the EU candidate nation closer to European Union norms and for liberalizing an economy that has seen unprecedented prosperity. But his government is also accused of trying to tame the media and smother opposition.
"The lawmaking process has to be sped up," Secretary General Thorbjoern Jagland told Reuters in an interview.
"They have laws, the terrorist act for instance, special courts, and they have a very wide interpretation of what incitement to violence is, which brings so many journalists to jail."
Anti-terrorism laws allow suspects to be detained for lengthy periods before being formally charged.
The media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says Turkey has jailed more reporters than China, Eritrea, Iran or Syria, with some 70 journalists currently languishing in Turkish prisons, at least 42 of them because of their work.
In the group's 2013 press freedom index, Turkey slipped six places to 154th out of 179 countries.