Turkey

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  • 16 March 2017

    Access to public information in Erdoğan’s Turkey

    By Gülseren Adaklı (Originally published by Bianet, media partner in the ECPMF project. This publication has been produced within the project European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, co-funded by the European Commission. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso and its partners and can in no way be taken to […]

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  • 19 May 2016

    OGP Sets Benchmarks for Turkish Rehabilitation

    The Open Government Partnership Steering Committee has set a series of four tasks for the Turkish government to perform to avoid being designated as an “inactive” member. Despite having missed several key deadlines over several years, Turkey was given another chance. However, Turkey will be automatically designated “inactive” at the September Steering Committee meeting if it […]

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News Archive

  • 4 May 2016

    OGP Declares Azerbaijan Membership ‘Inactive’

    The Open Government Partnership Steering Committee has voted 16-3 (with three abstentions) to make Azerbaijan an “inactive” member, agreeing with complaints that the government has created an environment inhospitable to civil society activity. An OGP press release said the Steering Committee May 4 “resolved that Azerbaijan will be regretfully designated as inactive in OGP,  due to unresolved […]

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  • 3 May 2016

    Turkey Again Promises to Meet OGP Commitments

    After several years of inactivity as a member of the Open Government Partnership, the Turkish government pledged a revitalized membership, again. The promise came in a one-page April 27 letter, and was apparently sufficient for the OGP Steering Committee on May 4 to decide not to label Turkey as an “inactive” member. The last-minute request […]

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  • 26 April 2016

    OGP Committee Poised to Discuss Turkey, Azerbaijan

    The Open Government Partnership Steering Committee is poised to consider whether two members, Turkey and Azerbaijan, should be downgraded to “inactive” membership. The Steering Committee also has a broad agenda of policy matters to consider at the meeting May 3-4 in Cape Town, South Africa, (dress code “business formal”), and will be choosing future leaders. […]

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  • 9 March 2016

    OGP Body Recommends Declaring Azerbaijan Inactive

    Azerbaijan should be declared an “inactive” member of the Open Government Partnership, an OGP subcommittee has recommended. Such a designation would be the first time the OGP has disciplined a member for not adhering to OGP principles. The recommendation will be taken up by the OGP Steering Committee May 3-4, according to the minutes of […]

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  • 28 January 2016

    OGP Examines Membership of Kenya, Malawi, Montenegro

    The Open Government Partnership is reviewing the memberships of three member countries that have missed two deadlines to prepare national action plans (NAPs). Kenya, Malawi and Montenegro have failed for two successive years to produce action plans, a core commitment made by OGP members. The three countries could face being declared “inactive” under the OGP […]

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  • 4 March 2014

    Turkish Groups RTI Experiences, Make Plans

    A focus group meeting on right to information was held Jan. 14 in Ankara, Turkey, and civil society participants summarized their goals in a report. The session was organized jointly by TACSO Turkey and STGM and brought together 16 CSO participants. The purpose of the meeting was to share their opinions and experience in relation […]

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  • 12 February 2014

    Lithuania, Malta, Turkey Fall Behind in OGP Process

    Lithuania, Malta and Turkey have failed to meet their commitments as members of the Open Government Partnership, the OGP acknowledged in an unusual public statement issued Feb. 11. Three countries appear to be drop-outs from “Cohort 2” – a group of countries that joined the OGP at about the same time. They faced the same […]

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  • 12 October 2009

    US Treasury Secretary Urges More Transparency at IMF, Advocates Release of All Article IV Reports

    US Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, speaking October 4 in Istanbul at the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) meeting, called for more transparency at the International Monetary Fund. Geithner said, “Moreover, greater transparency is critical to underpin the credibility and effectiveness of IMF surveillance. Since the crisis has taught us that no nation is […]

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  • 11 September 2009

    IFC Announces Plans to Review Disclosure Policy

    The World Banks private sector lending arm, the International Finance Corporation, announced a review of its disclosure policy on September 8, a 15-month process to be done in conjunction with a review of its environmental and social policies. The IFCs July 23, 2009, report analyzes its experience with the environmental, social, and disclosure policies adopted […]

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  • 20 June 2007

    In First Year, Germany’s Federal Agencies Struggle to Adapt to FOIA: But Requesters Off to Slow Start as Well

    By Thoralf Schwanitz According to the first statistics published by the German Freedom of Information Commissioner, the federal administration is still struggling to adapt to the new openness required by Germany’s Freedom of Information Act, which entered into force on January 1, 2006. The new data also show that usage of the new law has […]

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  • 1 June 2002

    World Bank Begins Pilot Programs on Disclosure

    Some 20 countries are about to embark on pilot programs with the World Bank in which they will disclose and disseminate more information than they have in the past – that is, more than what Bank policy currently requires. The exact dimensions of this effort will become clearer once the Bank makes an official announcement […]

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links

LEGAL DOCUMENTS

Law on Right to Information; Law No. 4982

 

GOVERNMENT

Circular 2004/12 "The exercise of the right of petition and access to information". Official Gazette No 25356 (24 January 2004)

 

ORGANIZATIONS

Campaign for Freedom of Information in Turkey

 

OTHER RESOURCES

BilgilenmeHakki.Org, Report on Turkish Right to Information Assessment (Review) Council (9 August 2004)

 

Civil Transparency Movement Association (TSHD)

 

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Click to view.

Text from the freedominfo.org Global Survey: Freedom of Information and Access to Government Records Around the World, by David Banisar (updated July 2006)

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

There is no specific right of access to information in the 1982 Turkish Constitution. Article 26 gives right of free expression including the right to receive information. Article 74 provides for a right of petition and Article 125 provides for judicial review and compensation of administrative decisions.

The Law on Right to Information was adopted unanimously by the Parliament in October 2003 and went into effect in April 2004.

Citizens and legal persons have a right to information from public institutions and private organizations that qualify as public institutions. Non-citizens and foreign corporations based in Turkey also have a right to information related to them or their interests if the country they are from allows Turkish citizens to demand information from their authorities. Requests are to be made in writing or in electronic form if the identity of the applicant and their signature can be verified using a digital signature.

Government bodies are required to respond in 15 working days. They must provide either a certified copy of the document or when it is not possible to make a copy, requestors can examine them at the institution. Oral requests are to be treated "with hospitality and kindness" and immediately reviewed and resolved if possible.

There are exemptions for state secrets which would clearly cause harm to the security of the state or foreign affairs or national defense and national security; would harm the economic interests of the state or cause unfair competition or enrichment; the duties and activities of the civil and military intelligence units; administrative investigations; judicial investigations or prosecutions; violate the private life or economic or professional interests of an individual; privacy of communications; trade secrets; intellectual property; internal regulations; internal opinions, information notes and recommendations if determined by the institution to be exempt; and requests for recommendations and opinions. Information relating to administrative decisions that are not subject to judicial review or which affect the working life and professional honour of an individual are still subject to access. Other legal regulations which withhold information are overridden by the law.

There is no internal appeals mechanism. Appeals of withholdings are to the Board of Review of the Access to Information. Its jurisdiction was originally limited to cases relating to national security and state economic interests but the law was amended in November 2005 to allow appeals in all cases. Prior to the amendment, the Board still heard cases relating to the other issues. It can set up commissions and working groups and invite government representatives and outside organizations to participate. Its secretariat is handed by the Prime Ministry. The Board received 1566 appeals through March 2006. It accepted 567 cases.

Appeals can then be made to the administrative court. There are a few pending cases mostly related to non-compliance with board decisions by public authorities but there have been no decisions.

Sanctions can be imposed under the criminal law and administratively against officials for negligently, recklessly or deliberately obstructing the application of the law.

Institutions must prepare reports on the application of the law and submit them to the Board of Review. The Board must produce an annual report to submit to the National Assembly which will be made public. As of June 2005, there had been 395,557 requests, 87 percent of which the information was given fully. It was only partially given in 13,300 cases and denied in full in 20,000 cases.

An initial review of implementation made in October 2004 by NGO BilgilenmeHakki.org found that the major ministries had made serious efforts to implement the law. All had set up their FOI units and were taking requests through Internet portals. Over 75 percent of requests were being provided in full, some ministries such as Justice and Trade and Industry replying in the same day. However four ministries had not responded to requests.

A review by BilgilenmeHakki.org in 2004 and 2005 of municipalities and governorships found that few local authorities websites were following the rules while the governorships were somewhat better but still were failing a significant number of times.

The government published drafts of bills on "State Secrecy" and "Trade Secrets" in February 2004. It is expected that the draft bill on "State Secrecy" will codify the existing practice of allowing officials to classify documents with little oversight or restrictions. The bills have not been adopted yet. The Criminal Code prohibits the unauthorized disclosure, obtaining, or publishing state secrets, including of another country. Penalties include jail time up to ten years. Obtaining or publication of "banned documents" (non-public official documents) is also prohibited.

A draft data protection bill was also produced by the Ministry of Justice during 2003. It has also not advanced.

2004 freedominfo.org Global Survey Results - Turkey

 

 

Measuring Openness

Global Right to Information Rating
A country-by-country rating of laws by the Centre for Democracy and Law and Access Info.

Freedom House
The Freedom in the World report.

World Bank
Worldwide Governance Indicators

Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index
Measures perceptions of the degree of corruption.

Reporters Without Borders
The Press Freedom Index.