68,817 people in Turkey have been indicted for ‘‘insulting the President of Turkey’’ within the three years after the election of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as the Turkish President, it is stated in a report on December 11.
Transformation of Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code into an issue of procedural act used by prosecutors after the election of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as the president under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has been widely criticized. The Article 299 enacts prison sentence up to 4 years for ‘‘insulting the Turkish President’’.
The cases related to the Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code have increased especially after the AKP’s legal regulations in 2017 allowing the Turkish President to be a political party member during his/her office due to severe criticisms to this implementation in rivalries among political parties.
According to a statistical data given by Yaman Akdeniz, an academic at Faculty of Law, Istanbul Bilgi University, 12,839 of the 68,827 people indicted for the Article 299 were sued by the Turkish government between 2014-2017.
In 2014 when Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was elected as the Turkish President for the first time, there were 132 litigations regarding insulting the president, while this number increased to 1,953 in 2015, 4,187 in 2016, and 6,33 in 2017.
In addition to these, while the number of prosecutions for insulting the Turkish President was 682 in 2014, it was 38,254 in 2016, and 20,539 in 2017.
‘‘9,234 of the 12,000 defamation cases were concluded within three years. In this context, the courts ruled 3,414 verdicts of conviction, while 2,550 of the lawsuits were adjourned. The courts also returned acquittals for 1,697 defamation cases’’, Akdeniz noted.
Turkish government’s continuous attacks on the oppositional political groups and individuals on the grounds of ‘‘insulting the president’’ target wide segments of society ranging from high school and university students to academics, journalists, dissent politicians, and artists.