European Court of Human Rights dismisses case about block of Wikipedia in Turkey

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In 2020, we welcomed Turkey back to Wikipedia. Following a nearly three-year block affecting both readers and editors in the country, in December 2019, the Turkish Constitutional Court ruled the block unconstitutional and ordered access restored. Although the block was lifted, work continued behind the scenes. The Foundation moved forward with a petition we filed in 2019 with the European Court of Human Rights, an international court that enforces the European Convention on Human Rights, of which Turkey is a party. We argued that the law that was used as the basis for the block violated fundamental rights of the people of Turkey. 

Today, the European Court of Human Rights announced that it is dismissing the case. It cited three reasons for this dismissal: 1) the block was lifted in 2020; 2) the block was effectively deemed a human rights violation by the Turkish Constitutional Court in its December 2019 ruling; and 3) the Court believes the Turkish Constitutional Court capable of addressing future problems related to violations of free expression online. The Court did provide guidance that the over two years taken by the Turkish Constitutional Court to address the violation may, in the future, be seen as an excessive delay for governments to take action in cases of website blocking.

Because our primary goal when we filed the case was to restore access to Wikipedia in Turkey, we understand the Court’s decision. However, we also recognize that this ruling comes at a time when access to knowledge continues to be under threat around the world, including in Russia where authorities recently demanded the removal of Wikipedia content related to the Russian government’s invasion of Ukraine. We will continue to work with you all to defend the right of everyone to freely access and participate in knowledge, today and into the future.

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