Turkish police instruct officer to prevent people filming them

Riot police stand guard in front of the Bogazici University as students protest against the new rector and arrest of two students inside the campus, in Istanbul, Turkey.

Turkish police have instructed officers to prevent people filming or recording security forces on smartphones while they are on duty, Turkish media reported on Friday.

Critics of the move said the decision, circulated in a notice by Turkey’s police headquarters, was unlawful and would make it more difficult to identify rights violations at demonstrations or other events where police were deployed.

The notice, reported by OdaTV news website, said personnel should not allow voice or video recording without permission “while executing (their) duties”, because it violated personal privacy and could involve unlawfully sharing personal data.

It said action could be taken against people who record or film police.

“These violations that reach a level that prevents the execution of duty, are published from time to time on digital platforms in a way that damages the personal rights and security of our personnel or citizens,” the notice said.

Lawyer Mehmet Durakoglu, head of the Istanbul Bar Association, criticised the move, saying the issue should be addressed by legislation, not a police edict.

“It is not correct to prevent the identification of human rights violations due to personal data,” he said.

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 which are frequently filmed and posted on social media.

“We have to make the right decision,” Durakoglu said. “Is it important for us to identify the violation, or do we need to consider the personal data of police?”

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