The ICJ has intervened with an expert opinion to support the board members of the Turkish Medial Association in the appeal against their conviction for hate speech offences. The conviction raises significant concerns for freedom of expression.
The case before the Appeal Court concerns 11 defendants, all members of the Council of the Turkish Medical Association: Mehmet Raşit Tükel, Taner Gören, Sinan Adıyaman, Mehmet Sezai Berber, Selma Güngör, Bülent Nazım Yılmaz, Funda Barlık Obuz, Dursun Yaşar Ulutaş, Ayfer Horasan, Şeyhmus Gökalp and Hande Arpat.
On 3 May 2019, the defendants were convicted at first instance by the Ankara 32 Assize Court for having issued statements opposing the war during Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch in Syria.
The Assize Court concluded that the members of the Council publicly provoked hatred or hostility in one section of the public against another section which has a different characteristic based on social class, race, religion, sect or regional difference, in a way that creates an explicit and imminent danger to public security. The Court sentenced each defendant to two terms of 10 months’ imprisonment for provoking the public to hatred and hostility in two separate statements.
Hande Arpat was additionally convicted of “disseminating propaganda in support of a terrorist organization” to 18 months and 22 days in prison concerning her three Facebook posts.
The ICJ expert opinion presented before the Court of Appeal examines international law standards relevant to the criminalization and prosecution of crimes of expression.
Turkey-AssDoctors-ExpertOpinion-2020-ENG (download the expert opinion in English)
Turkey-AssDoctors-ExpertOpinion-2020-TUR (download the expert opinion in Turkish)