Pressure on media freedom raises concerns: OSCE election monitors

30 October 2015 / By Daily News

Media freedom, pluralism and media playing the field for candidates were areas which raised concerns ahead of Turkey’s Nov. 1 elections, according to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) election observation leaders, who spoke after their multi-city visit.

The OSCE special coordinator for observation of the early parliamentary elections in Turkey, Ignacio Sanchez Amor, and the head of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Delegation of Observers, Margareta Cederfelt, visited the center, east and west of the country this week in preparation for the Nov. 1 vote.

They met with senior representatives from the election administration, representatives of political parties, NGOs, analysts, journalists and long-term observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) while visiting Istanbul, Ankara, Erzurum and Diyarbakır.

In Ankara, Sanchez Amor and Cederfelt also met with representatives of the Koza İpek media group, which was appointed a board of trustees following a court ruling and whose offices were raided by police.

Freedom of expression, freedom of the media and security for all political parties were the preliminary focuses of these meetings.

“Our meetings with Koza İpek and journalists from a range of media outlets suggest that, once again, media freedom, media pluralism and the media playing the field for candidates are areas to which we must pay close attention in characterizing the context of these elections” said Amor.

Cederfelt met with Diyarbakır Governor Hüseyin Aksoy regarding concerns over electoral security in the region.

“In Diyarbakır and in the eastern part of Turkey especially, the issue of security is at the front of people’s minds. As we approach the fourth election in less than two years, Turkish citizens could also be forgiven for some voter fatigue. However, I was pleased to hear that despite these factors, people are expected to vote in high numbers,” said Cederfelt.

Cederfelt serves as the head of approximately 40 members of parliament from nearly 20 OSCE participating states who will observe the vote.

The OSCE parliamentarians, who have begun arriving in Turkey, will participate in comprehensive briefings before deploying to polling stations in several regions for election day. They will work closely with observers from the OSCE/ODIHR and in coordination with colleagues from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

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