Bar association challenges controversial police regulation at top court

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The Ankara Bar Association has taken to court a controversial regulation issued by the country’s Security General Directorate last week ordering police officers to stop people from recording videos while law enforcement is carrying out its duties, Turkish media outlets reported.

According to the regulation, signed by Governor Mehmet Aktaş, head of the Security General Directorate, the grounds for the prevention of recording is the protection of police officers’ privacy. The regulation led to outrage among social media users in Turkey, with many posting messages promising that they would record any police violence or maltreatment of individuals in public.

The bar association filed the case against the regulation at the Council of State, Turkey’s highest administrative board, demanding its cancellation.

“Every citizen may feel the need to record as evidence an incident that takes place in public out of suspicion that it includes the elements of a crime,” the association said in its petition, adding that the regulation runs contrary to Turkey’s constitution and laws and has nothing to do protecting the privacy of the police as claimed by Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.

According to Human Rights Watch, there has been a marked resurgence of police torture and ill-treatment in Turkey over the past five years and since a coup attempt in particular. Lack of condemnation from higher officials and a readiness to cover up allegations rather than investigate them has resulted in widespread impunity for the security forces. The rights watchdog’s Europe and Central Asia director, Hugh Williamson, said, “Turkey has an entrenched culture of impunity when it comes to abuses by the security forces, no matter how serious.”

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