‘Legal Basis for a Police State’: Turkish Law Criminalizes Protests Before They Happen

Image from June 3, 2013 police crackdown on Turkish protesters (Photo: Flickr Creative Commons / Sabo Tabi)Turkish police can now legally arrest and detain people they deem at “risk of conducting a protest” without court orders or oversight of any kind, prompting concerns about deepening police abuse in a country slammed for its brutal crackdown on mass protests in recent months.

Leading Turkish paper Hürriyet reported Sunday that the new regulations will allow police to monitor groups suspected of organizing public protests and arrest their members for up to 24 hours if authorities deem, based on intelligence, that they “might hold a protest.”

The regulations also impose harsher penalties on people charged with resisting police or accused of harming public property.

The Turkish government, which has the second most police per capita in the world, has already come under international criticism for its violent repression of country-wide mobilizations sparked by the Gezi park protests earlier this year. The new regulations suggests that the government is seeking to expand its powers in the wake of the popular pro-democracy movement that grew beyond the initial concerns over the use of public lands.

The expansion of police powers embodied in the new law has prompted an outpouring of concern.

“This application is scary and unconstitutional,” declared Ãœmit Kocasakal, president of the Istanbul Bar Association. “We know how police exceed their authority. By this regulation, we remove judges and prosecutors and are giving the state of law to the police. They have brought police to the position of chief prosecutor and the legal basis for a police state is being prepared.”

To view responses to the new regulations and commentary from people in Turkey and across the world, see the following Twitter feed:


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