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Statement of the Venice Commission on the Disinformation Act: Encroachments on Freedom of Expression

The bill to amend the Press Law and some laws, also known to the public as the Disinformation Law, continues to be discussed in the General Assembly of the Turkish Grand National Assembly. The Venice Commission today (October 10, 2022) announced its opinion on the draft law, of which 15 articles have been adopted so far.

The Venice Commission (European Commission for Democracy through Law), at the request of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, prepared a report specifically addressing the article in the proposal that proposes to amend Article 217 of Turkish Penal Code No. 5237. The draft law expands Article 217 of Turkish Penal Code No. 5237 to include the offense of "public dissemination of misleading information."

In its opinion, the Commission pointed out that the proposed amendment interferes with the right to freedom of expression protected by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

While the bill indicated that the proposal to criminalize "false or misleading information" could be applied to any individual, it stressed that the Venice Commission had serious doubts about the need for this amendment in a democratic society.

In its opinion, the Venice Commission stated that criminal interventions for "false or misleading information" could have a deterrent effect, especially in view of the elections to be held in June 2023, and stressed that it was concerned about the increase in self-censorship.

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