Video footage recorded by citizens assists top court in case of protestor beaten by police
Turkey's Constitutional Court has ruled that a protestor had her rights violated after she was beaten by two police officers during a demonstration held for the killing of Berkin Elvan, who died in March 2014 as a result of injuries sustained in the Gezi Park protests. The court based its decision on video footage recorded by citizens during the demonstration.
Turkey's Constitutional Court has ordered the state to pay 40,500 liras to a protestor who was exposed to police violence during a March 2014 demonstration held for Berkin Elvan, the 15-year-old boy who died as a result of injuries sustained in the Gezi Park protests.
The top court ruled that the Constitution's Article 17 forbidding torture had been violated. The court gave its ruling after watching the footage recorded by citizens during the demonstration.
“It has been decided authorities were unable to provide that the use of power against the applicant was unavoidable,” the top court said.
The court said that as the applicant named Şadiye Dilan Doğan was standing on the street, a police officer named H.A. walked up to her and “hit her face and back with the baton a couple of times.”
“It is at this point that the applicant responded to H.A. with kicks and punches. As H.A. turned his back and was about to leave, another police officer hit the applicant, yelled at the applicant, and said some things that were not clearly understood. H.A. came back and hit the applicant's back once again a couple of times,” the court said.
The police violence did not stop there. Shortly afterwards, a police vehicle known as “shortland” hit Doğan and crushed her foot, causing some of the bones to be broken.
Doğan took her case to the judiciary, but the prosecutors decided on non-prosecution for the police officers who hit her. As for the driver of the police vehicle, the governor's office did not grant the prosecutors the permission to investigate him saying his act was “unintentional.”
Doğan also filed a lawsuit against Interior Ministry to be compensated for the police's “use of disproportionate force” against her. The administrative court in 2015 however turned down her application, arguing that the police “intervention stayed within the legal limits and the applicant's own behavior was the main reason behind this injury.” Once Doğan's appeal was rejected by an upper court, she this time took her case to the Constitutional Court.
The top court's decision comes as the Turkish police on April 30 issued a directive banning citizens from filming them during demonstrations.
Many people pointed out that the move, 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 police directive 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.