Duvar English

A court in the western province of Bolu has cancelled a fine imposed on a resident for not wearing a face mask.

“As per the principle of being a social state and also as the imposed obligation brings about a financial burden, the state has the obligation to provide three masks per person every day,” said the court in its decision, according to a report on Deutsche Welle’s Turkish service on July 13.

The incident reportedly happened on May 20, on one of the most busiest avenues of the province. The neighborhood watchmen stopped Elif Nihan İ. as they saw her not wearing a face mask – compulsory for anyone stepping outside their place of residence as part of COVID-19 preventive measures in the province.

As the watchmen asked Elif Nihan İ. to show her identity card for them to impose an administrative fine, she refused to do so, saying that she had gone outside to take her dog to the vet. As the argument between Elif Nihan İ. and watchmen grew heated, the police came to the scene of the incident and imposed a fine of 392 Turkish Liras ($57).

Elif Nihan İ. later applied to the Bolu Criminal Court of Peace for the fine to be cancelled. The court gave a ruling in favor of the resident, saying: “As per the 13rd article of the Constitution, basic rights and freedoms can be limited only with the law, depending on the reasons indicated in the relevant articles of the Constitution.”

The court made a reference to the Constitution’s 19th article in its decision, which says “personal liberty and security cannot be limited without a court decision, and even if they are limited in compulsory situations, such a case needs to be presented to the judge’s approval within 24 hours.”

The court said that preventive measures taken against pandemics are regulated in the Public Health Law’s 64th article, but this article does not make a reference to the obligation of wearing a face mask.

‘Financial burden should be met by the state’

The court also drew attention to the “financial burden” that comes with wearing a mask. It said that it is the state’s duty to protect its citizens’ health as per the 56th article of the Constitution; that a face mask needs to changed every four hours; and that every person needs three masks every day, provided that they spend 12 hours outdoors.

Making a reference to the Constitution’s 73rd article which says “financial burdens can be only placed with the law and removed with the law,” the court said: “The administrative fine, which was not in line with the law, has been revoked.”