Top Turkish court overturns ban on recording police officers on duty

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Turkey’s Council of State has unanimously voted to overturn a regulation issued by the Security General Directorate prohibiting people from filming or recording police on cameras or smartphones while they are on duty, local media reported.

The regulation, which was issued in April and had been widely criticized for being unlawful and making it more difficult to identify rights violations at demonstrations or other events where police were deployed, was overturned due to being in violation of freedom of the press and the freedom to communicate.

In the ruling made public on Thursday, the court also noted that fundamental rights and freedoms could only be restricted by law.

“Restriction of fundamental rights and freedoms via regulations in the form of notices issued by the Security General Directorate, which is subject to the executive branch of government, is not in compliance with the constitution,” the court said.

According to the local media reports, the Council of State will rule on the annulment of the regulation at a later date, while it will no longer be in effect.

Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, who formerly expressed support for the regulation, saying, “Wasn’t justice served in the world before [the invention of] mobile phones?” on Friday told reporters that the order for the stay of execution didn’t really hinder their purposes.

The minister added that the issue pointed out by the Council of State was a just one, adding that the police regulation had not specifically mentioned “relations with the press” as the matter was handled in the constitution.

Scuffles between citizens and police are common during protests in Turkey, which are generally broken up by force using tear gas, water cannons and batons — actions that are frequently filmed and posted on social media.

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