Political and civil rights in Turkey have degraded so severely under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that it is no longer a free country, according to a new report on freedoms around the world.
The annual Freedom in the World report, produced by the US NGO Freedom House, has classified Turkey as “not free” for the first time since the report series began in 1999. It had lost its status as “partly free” due to a slide in political and civil rights.
Freedom House pointed to Mr Erdogan’s widespread crackdown in the wake of a failed 2016 coup and the disputed referendum in 2017 which gave the Turkish president widespread new powers.
The report also criticised Mr Erdogan for sacking elected mayors and replacing them with political allies and for “arbitrary prosecutions of rights activists and other perceived enemies of the state”.
Turkey’s passage over the threshold from ‘Partly Free’ to ‘Not Free’ is the culmination of a long and accelerating slide in Freedom in the World,” wrote Michael Abramowitz, Freedom House’s president.
“The country’s score has been in free fall since 2014 due to an escalating series of assaults on the press, social media users, protesters, political parties, the judiciary, and the electoral system, as President Recep Tayyip Erdodan fights to impose personalised control over the state and society in a deteriorating domestic and regional security environment.”