Top court refuses to annul article that punishes insulting Erdoğan

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Turkey’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday declined to abolish Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which stipulates punishment for insults to the president, the T24 news web site reported.

The İstanbul 43rd Criminal Court of First Instance applied to the Constitutional Court, saying Article 299 of the TCK contravenes the Turkish Constitution and European human rights conventions. The high court, however, unanimously rejected the petition.

TCK Article 299 reads: “Anyone who insults the President of the Republic shall be imprisoned for a term of from one to four years. Where the offense is committed in public, the sentence shall be increased by one sixth. Initiation of prosecution for this offense shall be subject to authorization by the Minister of Justice.”

Turkish prosecutors have opened some 2,000 cases against people for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since he became Turkey’s head of state in mid-2015.

In April, 45 writers, academics, journalists, activists and artists issued a declaration that demanded abolition of Article 299 of the TCK.

“Yet, Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code, which provides extreme protection for an individual due to her/his title as president and throws people into prison, is being implemented in a way clearly open to abuse, and this law, which also clearly contradicts universal principles of human rights, is being enforced arbitrarily by the very authority which is under its protection and is implemented unjustly towards many by restricting freedom of expression and the press,” said the statement, which also demanded that the Constitutional Court abolish the article.

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