The General Directorate of Security issued a controversial decision, which mainly (but not exclusively) affects journalists, that stated that no public protests or social events that might be organised during the lockdown period can be “recorded”. Mehmet Aktaş, the head of the Directorate, announced that “legal action” will be taken against those who record audios or videos during any protests that might take place during the17-day lockdown period, which came into effect today.
It was announced that any recordings that might be made would violate the privacy of police officers at any such protests/demonstrations and this would have the effect of preventing the police from fulfilling their duties. Aktaş also stated: ”We have notified all our personnel while they are conducting their duties that these kinds of recordings would prevent them from fulfilling their duties and this must not be permitted: they should prevent those recordings of the protests or actions. They will take necessary legal steps to proceed with legal actions”.
The Progressive Lawyers Association (ÇHD) reacted to the decision. ÇHD emphasized that torture or ill-treatment should be (audio-visually) recorded wherever it occurred. “This decision aims to issue a guarantee to the Ministry of Interior’s staff before the ‘1May, International Workers’ Day’. If your staff are recorded torturing people in the pursuit of their duties, this would be considered as evidence against them. Your duty is not to torture: it is a crime!”, stated the ÇHD today, MA reported.
The Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK) also published a statement related to the ban on video and audio recordings during the lockdown. ”The aim of the ban is not to protect personal rights but to cover up crimes. The purpose is to prevent citizens from exercising their legal rights from being arbitrarily arrested and beaten”, DISK Press Union stated today in a written statement.
DISK added: ”We remind you that all kinds of social events are within the scope of freedom of expression and the press is protected by the constitution and international conventions. The footage of how the US police killed George Floyd shows the importance of recording public events. All journalists and any citizens have a right to record footage in public. In this respect, we repeat once again that we will exercise our legal rights against the published directive and will continue to pursue the facts”.
Lawyer Ezgi Önalan shared her evaluations with Gazette Yolculuk regarding the new ban.
“This directive encourages police officers to commit crimes and there is an attempt to ban the right to collect evidence”, Önalan stated. She emphasized that by implementing such a ban, the police will be encouraged to “commit crimes” because the elimination of being able to legally record police violence will end up in a situation where no “evidence of torture” can be produced.
”The police officers who supposedly perform their duties but commit crimes during their duty should be recorded on camera by lawyers and citizens alike. Because we know that the footage of security cameras are not given to us when cases of torture are reported. The evidence ‘disappears’ in the hands of the authorities”, she said. Referring to the law in Turkey, Önalan said: “Any Turkish citizen has a right to collect evidence and this cannot be banned”.