Civil society group calls for repealing article on insulting president

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The Denge ve Denetleme Ağı, or DDA (Checks and Balances Network), an umbrella civil society group that consists of 271 nongovernmental organizations, has called on the Turkish Parliament to repeal an article that stipulates prison sentences for people who insult the Turkish president, the t24 news website reported on Thursday.

Insulting the president is a crime in Turkey, according to the controversial Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). Whoever insults the president can face up to four years in prison, a sentence that can be increased if the crime was committed through the mass media.

The DDA said Article 299 of the TCK should be repealed in accordance with harmonization laws being enacted under an executive presidency that came into force in Turkey with a public referendum in 2017.

According to the DDA, 13,000 cases have been filed against individuals over the past seven years based on Article 299. The group said elected individuals should be more tolerant of criticism, satire and accusations, which are a natural result of being in those posts.

The slightest criticism of Erdoğan is considered an insult, and there has been a rise in the number of cases in Turkey in which people inform on others claiming that they insulted the president, the government or government officials.

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