Article 301 (Turkish Penal Code)
Article 301 is a controversial article of the Turkish Penal Code making it illegal to insult Turkey, the Turkish ethnicity, or Turkish government institutions. It took effect on June 1, 2005, and was introduced as part of a package of penal-law reform in the process preceding the opening of negotiations for Turkish membership of the European Union (EU), in order to bring Turkey up to the Union standards. The original version of the article made it a crime to "insult Turkishness"; on April 30, 2008, the article was amended to change "Turkishness" into "the Turkish nation". Since this article became law, charges have been brought in more than 60 cases, some of which are high-profile. The Great Jurists Union (Turkish: Büyük Hukukçular Birliği) headed by Kemal Kerinçsiz, a Turkish lawyer, is "behind nearly all of Article 301 trials". Kerinçsiz himself is responsible for forty of the trials, including the high-profile ones.
On April 30, 2008 a series of changes were made on the Article 301, including a new amendment which makes it obligatory to get the approval of the minister of justice to file a case. This change was made to prevent the possible misuse of the article, especially against high-profile cases, filling up the legal holes of the older version.
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... Following the murder of Hrant Dink, Turkish deputy prime minister and foreign minister Abdullah Gül declared, "With its current state, there are certain problems with article 301 ... We see now that there are changes which must be made to this law." On April 30, 2008, article 301 was amended by the Parliament of Turkey, with the following changes replacement of the word "Turkishness" with the phrase "the Turkish Nation" (so "denigration of Turkishness" became "denigration of the Turkish Nation") reduction of the maximum penalty from three years to two removal of the special provision aggravating the punishment for denigration when committed by a Turkish citizen in another country requiring permission of the justice ministry to file a case ...
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