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Freedom House: "Freedom on the Net 2022" Report

Freedom on the Net 2022 reported Turkey as 'not free' with a score of 32/100.

Overview President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), which have ruled Turkey since 2002, have become increasingly authoritarian in recent years, consolidating significant power through constitutional changes and by imprisoning opponents and critics. A deepening economic crisis and the upcoming elections in 2023 have given the government new incentives to suppress dissent and limit public discourse.

Key Developments in 2022

  • An electoral law passed by the AKP-led parliamentary majority in March lowered the parliamentary entry threshold from 10 percent to 7 percent and changed the way seats are distributed among party alliances. Opposition parties criticized its provisions as an attempt to obstruct a broad opposition alliance ahead of 2023 elections and to control vote-counting processes. The law also exempted the president from rules that ban ministers from using state resources for electoral campaigns.

  • In October, the parliament approved a law that introduced a prison sentence of up to three years for individuals deemed to promote false information on social media. Press freedom advocates and opposition groups criticized the law’s vague language and warned that it could be used as a tool to silence independent journalists.

  • Istanbul mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), was convicted in December of insulting state institutions. İmamoğlu is considered a key challenger to Erdoğan, and the case against him was widely viewed as politically motivated. The conviction of the CHP’s Istanbul chair, Canan Kaftancioğlu, for insulting the president was upheld in May.

  • In April, an Istanbul court convicted prominent philanthropist Osman Kavala and seven civil society leaders of conspiring to overthrow the government, sentencing Kavala to life in prison and each of the others to 18 years. In June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) again ruled against the government of Turkey over its failure to free Kavala in accordance with a 2019 ECHR decision, which stated that his detention was politically motivated and that he should be released.

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