Freedom House releases annual report, maintains Turkey's status as "not free"

Freedom House, a Washington-based freedom watchdog, has released the latest edition of its annual Freedom in the World report for the year 2020, warning that democracy and pluralism are under assault around the world.

The report aims to provide a country-by-country analysis of the condition in terms of civil liberties and political rights.

"Dictators are toiling to stamp out the last vestiges of domestic dissent and spread their harmful influence to new corners of the world. At the same time, many freely elected leaders are dramatically narrowing their concerns to a blinkered interpretation of the national interest," the report's introduction read.

Indeed, the section related to Turkey presented a striking example of this assessment. The country was given a score of 32 out of 100 points, ranking among the countries that belong to the category of "not free" to which Turkey was degraded two years ago.

The report highlighted ongoing "prosecutions and harassment campaigns against opposition politicians and prominent members of civil society," particularly the imprisonment of Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş and civil society leader Osman Kavala, and the sentencing of opposition politician Canan Kaftancıoğlu over politically motivated charges.

It also said that Turkey's October military offensive into northern Syria led to further restrictions on the already crippled freedom of expression in the country, especially targeting people who made critical comments about the operation on social media.

A number of other human rights problems were also noted in the report, including faith-based and gender-based discrimination by authorities, political pressures on the press and criminal prosecution of journalistic activities, political pressures on academic freedoms, fear of retribution for online or public expression of opinions, severe restrictions on freedoms of assembly and association, political interference with the judiciary, lack of respect for due process, lack of access to fair trial, torture and ill-treatment in custody, restrictions on freedom of travel.



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