Study: Insulting foreign leaders a crime in 18 OSCE states New research released one year after prosecution of German satirist underscores need for regional legal reformA composite picture made of file pictures shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a press conference in Bucharest, Romania, 01 April 2015 (L) and German comedian and television host Jan Boehmermann posing in Berlin, Germany, 22 February 2012 (R). EPA/ROBERT GHEMENT
Just over one year ago, German satirist Jan Böhmermann performed a reading of a vulgar poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that would unleash both a debate about the limits of satire and the fury of Turkey’s thin-skinned strongman. Despite German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to grant Erdoğan’s request to allow a case against Böhmermann to go ahead, prosecutors dropped all charges in October.
The case also called attention to a seldom-used provision of German criminal law that punishes insult to foreign heads of state with up to five years in prison and which the German government has since committed to repeal.
A brief post by the International Press Institute (IPI) last year showed that similar provisions existed in a number of EU member states. Now, a new study released last month by the Office of the OSCE Special Representative on Freedom of the Media and conducted by IPI researchers offers more extensive insight.