EU agrees on the delegation to follow trials of journalists

July 14, 2011, Thursday/ 16:50:00/ SELÇUK GÜLTAŞLI

The European Parliament has agreed on the composition, mission and working methods of a committee that has been created to follow the high number of cases against journalists in Turkey.

Members of an ad hoc delegation for the observation of the trials of journalists in Turkey were named following the decision on Wednesday. The five members of the delegation were announced as: Michael Cashman (Socialist Group, Britain); Helene Flautre (Greens, co-chairwoman of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, France); Emma McClarkin (European Conservatives and Reformists, Britain); Ria Oomen-Ruijten (Christian Democrat, EP rapporteur on Turkey, The Netherlands); and Jaroslaw Leszek Walesa (Christian Democrat, son of former Polish President Lech Walesa, Poland).

During its first meeting on Wednesday the delegation elected Walesa as its chairman. Walesa is known for his strong support for Turkey's EU membership.

The delegation agreed to follow the cases of five to 10 journalists that will be representative of the judicial process against reporters. The delegation will follow cases opened on the basis of articles 285, 288, 301, 314, 334 and 336 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and articles 5 and 7 of Turkey's anti-terror law, which are the most used articles to initiate investigations against reporters.

According to information about the decision obtained by Today's Zaman, the Conference of Presidents without debate agreed on the “sending of an ad hoc delegation to Turkey to attend important trials of journalists, including those of Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık.” The decision states that there will be three visits to Turkey in one year and in each group there will be two Members of the European Parliament on a rotating basis. The decision was that “up to two of its members would travel at a time, on a rotating basis, to Turkey to follow trials, up to a maximum of three times in total per year.”

Oomen-Ruijten, the European Parliament rapporteur in Turkey, had already called for the creation of a delegation to follow the trails on Şık and Şener back in March. Oomen-Ruijten's report was harshly criticized by the government which accused it of being “one-sided.” The Conference of the Presidents in its two meetings on June 1 and June 9 gave the “go-ahead” for the delegation.

While the cases of Şık and Şener will be one of the main focuses of the delegation, the delegation is also expected to follow at least one or two cases of “conservative” reporters who have had almost 4,000 investigations opened against them. EP sources say the delegation will convene again mid-September and decide the cases to be followed.

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