Fine on demonstrators for obstructing traffic, tram tracks ‘violation’: Turkish Constitutional Court
Oya Armutçu – ANKARA
The Turkish Constitutional Court has ruled that an administrative fine imposed on five demonstrators for disrupting road and tramway traffics back in 2014 was a “violation of their right to hold meetings and demonstrations.”
The top court’s ruling concerns five people who participated in an event in the western province of Eskişehir on May 6, 2014 to commemorate Deniz Gezmiş, Yusuf Aslan and Hüseyin İnan – three leftist student leaders executed in 1972 for attempting to overthrow the constitutional order.
Of the five people, the three closed a section of the road, causing traffic disruption on the day, for which they were imposed an administrative fine of 356 Turkish Liras for traffic offense. The other two demonstrators, on the other hand, blocked tramway rails, with each getting fined 189 liras for holding a march and press statement at a place banned by the local governor’s office to hold rallies.
The five people then appealed to the Eskişehir 1st Court of Peace, requesting the fines be cancelled. But once their demand was turned down, they filed an application to the Constitutional Court.
In a decision handed down on April 19, the top court ruled for the protestors’ retrial, saying that their 20-minute-long action had not “limited others’ rights and freedoms,” as there were “alternative roads” that could have been used at the time.
The demonstrators’ action was “peaceful and within the boundaries of being acceptable and endurable,” and in “democratic societies,” such actions should not be fined, the top court said in its ruling.
The court then sent the demonstrators’ file back to the Eskişehir 1st Court of Peace for their retrial. Accordingly, the relevant fines will be reimbursed to the protestors as they wait for the retrial process’ result.
This unprecedented decision of the top court will pave way for other demonstrators to get reimbursed, who have been fined similarly.