Punishing Insult to the President? An Evaluation of the Turkish Constitutional Court’s Decision on the Constitutionality of “Defamation of the President”

This paper evaluates the constitutionality of the crime titled “Defamation of the President” provided under Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code. The evaluation is presented as an alternative to the Turkish Constitutional Court’s concrete norm review decision in which the court decided that the provision was in compliance with constitutional requirements. This paper argues that the decision was erroneous and not in line with European Court of Human Rights’ jurisprudence. The paper highlights the stark increase in the number of charges and convictions under the crime and finds the provision to be a disproportionate limitation of individual rights. Specifically, the provision fails to pass the tests of legality, necessity and proportionality stricto sensu. The concluding argument is that Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code should be abolished, and the President’s reputation should not be protected through methods bestowing special protection.