The censorship of the internet and the blocking of websites in Turkey has gone beyond what is necessary in a democratic society, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, said in a report submitted to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) concerning a case between Wikipedia and Turkey.
“The Commissioner sees the ongoing blocking of access to Wikipedia as forming part of a broader pattern of undue restrictions on the right to receive and impart information on the internet, and more generally as an illustration of the disproportionately heavy-handed approach currently prevailing in Turkey to any content or information the Turkish authorities consider offensive,” said a statement released by Mijatović's office on Nov. 25.
“Commissioner Mijatovic concludes that the way Turkish administrative authorities and courts routinely have recourse to internet blocking is unacceptable in a democratic society and not compatible with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights which protects freedom of expression,” said the statement further.
In April of this year, Wikipedia took Turkey to the ECHR over a two-year ban imposed on the site. The Wikimedia Foundation said that it filed the petition on the grounds that a ban on its online encyclopedia violated the right to freedom of expression.
On April 29, 2017, Turkey's Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) said it had blocked access to Wikipedia, citing a law allowing it to ban access to websites deemed obscene or a threat to national security.
Following the ban, the Wikipedia Foundation initially filed an appeal at a local court, which was rejected. It then took the case to Turkey's Constitutional Court, with the top court not having taken any action so far.
Once all the domestic options were exhausted, the Wikimedia Foundation this time applied to the ECHR, with Mijatović intervening as the third party in the case on Sept. 23.
The ECHR then asked all the parties involved to submit their opinions on whether the ban on Wikipedia was in line with the European Convention on Human Rights by Oct. 31. But, with Turkey's demand, this deadline has been extended six weeks, Deutsche Welle said in a news report on Nov. 25