Forcible pat downs are unconstitutional, Turkey’s top court rules

The Turkish Constitutional Court has ruled that the police mistreated a man who was patted down against his will and detained while sitting in a cafe in southern Hatay province in 2017, Turkish media reported.

Hüseyin Ali Kudret was approached by police while he was sitting in a cafe with friends. The police searched his bag and checked his identification card, after which they asked permission to pat him down. When Kudret and his friends objected, saying it was illegal, the police forcibly searched and detained them, dragging Kudret by the hair.

According to the regulation on physical searches, the police are required to have a search warrant for the relevant premises unless they have an arrest warrant, are transferring a detainee to a cell or a detainee is trying to flee the scene.

Kudret was charged with obstruction of and resisting police but was acquitted. He appealed to the Constitutional Court in 2018, saying his right to privacy was violated as the police’s authority applied only to public spaces and that he was on the premises of a private business at the time.

The court ruled in favor of Kudret and ordered he be paid 10,000 lira ($1,200) in damages. According to the court, the police failed to include the pat down in the incident report. The prosecutor’s office had failed to effectively investigate the claims of mistreatment and had not inspected security footage from the café, the court said.

According to a report released by main opposition Republican People’s Party deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu  in January, a total of 27,493 people were victims of torture and maltreatment between 2002, when the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power, and 2020 and that 86 others had died from such mistreatment.

While 988 cases of torture or maltreatment were reported in 2002, this figure rose to 3,534 in 2020, the report stated.

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