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Ministry of Interior: The circular banning filming protests is an “in-house instruction”

Photo: Bülent Kılıç/AFP

The General Directorate of Security (EGM) and the Ministry of Interior claim that the circular that bans filming during public demonstrations is “an in-house instruction which explains already existing legal powers of law enforcement.”

On April 30, EGM issued a circular and instructed law enforcement officers to prevent those who record police interventions during public demonstrations.

Media and Law Studies Association’s (MLSA) Legal Unit filed a lawsuit against the circular. In a petition addressed to the Council of State, MLSA demanded that the circular should be repealed because it has no legal basis. On August 16th, EGM and the Ministry of Interior submitted their defenses to the 10th Chamber of the Council of State.

In identical defenses submitted to the Court, EGM and the Ministry argued that the lawsuit against the circular “has no legal basis”. The defense claims that the lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a journalist and journalists cannot be a party to such a lawsuit as the circular is “an in-house instruction” and therefore only concerns the personnel of relevant institutions.

Lawyer Zelal Pelin Doğan of MLSA’s Legal Unit said that the circular cannot be considered “an in-house instruction”. Doğan explained that “in practice, the circular is a ‘general regulatory action’. Every administrative action taken by law enforcement officers and is instructed from this circular directly affects all citizens.”

The ‘protection of personal data’ argument

In their defense, EGM and the Ministry refer to the articles 134 and 135 of Turkish Penal Code (TCK) which concern the crimes of “violation of privacy” and “recording of personal data”. The defense claims that the circular aims to protect not only the privacy and the personal data of law enforcement officers but also of other citizens who may also be recorded during these interventions.

Referring also to the Article 6 of Anti-Terror Law (TMK), the defense claimed that recording police officers may constitute a risk for police officers who may be pointed as targets to terrorist organizations.

The defense also claimed that the police may be recorded “only when they use force” and that this footage may be used by some media organizations and in social media “to create perceptions against the police in the public.”

‘The defense has no legal basis’

MLSA Co-Director lawyer Veysel Ok stated that the circular is in violation with freedom of expression and press freedom which are safeguarded by European Charter of Human Rights and the Constitution and said that “fundamental rights and liberties cannot be restricted with a circular. The defense by EGM and the Ministry has no legal basis, and thus the Administrative Court must repeal the circular.”