Top court overturns Turkey’s ban on recording police officers

Turkey’s Council of State has unanimously voted to overturn a Directorate General of Security notice to ban recording of on-duty police officers nationwide.

In the ruling, made public on Thursday, the top court said the ban was in violation of the right to communication and press freedom, adding 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 Directorate General of Security, which is subject to the executive branch of government, is not in compliance with the Constitution,” the court said.

The Council of State will rule on the annulment of the notice at a later date, while the orders within it will no longer be in effect.

Several bar associations, NGOs and the main opposition party appealed to the Council of State when the Director General of Security Mehmet Aktaş issued a notice on April 27 banning all recording of on-duty police officers, raising questions of accountability and press freedom.

Aktaş had argued that such recordings constituted obstruction of duty, a criminal offence cited in the Police Duties and Responsibilities Act, and a violation of the officers’ privacy.

“The sensibility that the Council of State has drawn attention to is a righteous sensibility,” Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu told reporters.

The order for the stay of execution of the notice “did not really hinder our purposes”, Soylu said, adding that the police chief had not specifically mentioned “relations with the press” as the matter was handled in the constitution.

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