Turkish Court Says Government's Two-Year Ban Of Wikipedia Violates Freedom Of Expression Rights
from the I-see-you've-made-your-ruling.-Now-let's-see-you-enforce-it. dept
The world’s second-largest jailer of journalists — Recep Erdogan’s Turkish government — has just been pushed back against ever so slightly by the country’s Constitutional Court. The government’s long-running ban of Wikipedia has been overturned, the Associated Press reports.
Turkey’s highest court on Thursday ruled in favor of Wikipedia, saying the Turkish government’s two-year ban on the online encyclopedia constitutes a violation of freedom of expression, the state-run news agency reported.
This ruling is somewhat of a surprise, given the authoritarian stance of the government. This ruling is also no-brainer, but one probably viewed by President Erdogan as redundant. Of course, it’s a violation of free speech rights. That’s what it was intended to be.
The government’s ban of Wikipedia began in April 2017 when the site refused to remove content the Turkish government claimed was a “threat to national security.” This included content suggesting Turkey’s government supported ISIS and other terrorist groups. When Wikipedia refused to engage in censorship on the Turkish government’s behalf, the government pulled the plug on all versions of Wikipedia.
Two years later, Jimmy Wales and Wikipedia petitioned the European Court of Human Rights, asking for a ruling reversing the ban and declaring it a violation of rights. Wikipedia has now secured a ruling doing these things, albeit from a court few people expected to side with the site. However, it may have been ECHR pressure that motivated this ruling. The ECHR expedited Wikipedia’s case, giving the Turkish government until the end of 2019 to justify the ban.
Apparently, no justification has been found. But this is only the beginning. The court has made its ruling. But the only thing that does — at least at this point — is keep the ECHR from handing down yet another judgment against Turkey. Not that those rulings have had any effect on the way the Turkish government goes about its business.
The ECHR has ruled against Turkey more than any other country. Ankara routinely ignores verdicts, choosing instead to pay court-ordered fines.
If it can ignore the European court, it can certainly ignore its own Constitutional Court. The ban may never be lifted. Erdogan seems willing to keep cutting checks if it helps keep pesky constituents in line and the government firmly in control of the narrative.