Rights Group Aims to Save Country from Controversy


The struggle to protect individual freedoms and support for the democratic process continues to be waged by NGOs in Turkey, says IHGD Chairman Cengiz, noting that legislators fail to consult civil society when drafting laws 

Serdar Alyamaç

İZMİR – Turkish Daily News

Human rights activists, jurists, lawyers and academics who form the Human Rights Agenda Association (IHGD) have launched a Freedom of Expression Project to suggest alternatives to legal articles that create barriers to fundamental rights and freedoms.
IHGD Chairman Orhan Kemal Cengiz, explaining the aim of the project, said it would review laws limiting freedom of expression under threat of criminal sanction.
“We will not confine ourselves to just criticizing these laws but instead offer amendments and new provisions and may suggest total abolishment of some articles. We will do this by consulting not only with prominent lawyers but also with journalists, artists and academics,” he said.
He said they wanted to fill the gap left by legislators when they draft laws, noting that legislators should consult civil society, the press and intellectuals when in the process of writing these laws.
Pointing out that a struggle to protect individual freedoms and support for the democratic process continues to be waged by nongovernmental organizations in Turkey, Cengiz said the primacy of the state over society was reflected even in the central administration’s role in the daily affairs of Turkish citizens. The economic, social and cultural arenas have remained primarily under state control, and nongovernmental economic and social initiatives have been discouraged in the name of national unity and political stability since the founding of the modern Turkish state.
Talking about the project’s activities, Cengiz said: “The IHGD will form a working group of five lawyers to review the new Turkish Penal Code [TCK] and identify those articles that prohibit fundamental rights and freedoms. The working group will also consult with other legal professionals, academics, bar associations and NGOs to collect additional opinions on the new TCK.”