‘Help, Police!’ to spot ‘risky’ police stations

‘Help, Police!’ to spot ‘risky’ police stations

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
‘Help, Police’ to spot ‘risky’ police stations

DHA photo

Due to an increasing number of reported police brutality cases, the Progressive Lawyers’ Association is establishing a telephone hotline for victims of police violence called “İmdat Polis” (Help! Police!). The hotline’s number, 444 155 9, is inspired by Turkey’s emergency police contact number, 155.

Members of the Progressive Lawyers’ Association, including lawyers Taylan Tanay and Efkan Bolaç, whose client Ahmet Koca was beaten by seven police officers in İstanbul’s Fatih neighborhood, began the hotline project to combat the use of “excessive force” by police, daily Akşam reported. The project is supported by the Istanbul Bar Association and the Istanbul Medical Chamber. The Istanbul Bar also supports the related “Torture Council,” to provide legal representation to victims of torture. 

The council will consist of five full-time lawyers, and 200 lawyers from the Progressive Lawyers’ Association will volunteer their time and services. As soon as a police brutality victim calls the hotline, the lawyer closest to the area will come to the scene. The Istanbul Medical Chamber will help with filing emergency health reports. The project will initially be implemented only in Istanbul, although the plan is to expand it to other provinces.

“The council will accept emergency applications. Our number is 444 155 9, because we wanted it to be reminiscent of the ‘Polis İmdat’ [Police Help] slogan [of the Turkish National Police]. When people dial 155, they call the police, when they dial ‘155 9’ they will dial us. The lawyers will be volunteers. There will be a personal record and certificate program. The council is open to written, personal and telephone applications. The hotline is available 24 hours a day. We will start legal procedures for victims by going to the scene of crime. Our initial goals are to rescue individuals from torture, file criminal complaints and follow up on open cases. We will follow the whole process. Secondly, the Medical Chamber will be informed and will take care of medical treatment. The Medical Chamber will assign doctors. Official reports will be made after victims are examined. If necessary, psychological assistance will be provided,” Tanay told reporters at a press conference. 

Earlier this month, Emrah Barlak was shot to death by a police officer in the midst of an argument over a traffic accident in İzmir. In the Aug. 13 incident, Barlak, 26, was killed and three others were wounded when a policeman fired his gun in a scuffle between officers and three men whose car crashed into a patrol vehicle. 

Earlier this summer, seven police officers were caught on camera severely beating Ahmet Koca in Istanbul. Amateur footage emerged June 20, showing at least seven policemen beating and kicking Koca following an argument over a traffic incident. Koca was attempting to take a pregnant relative to the hospital when the incident occurred. The officers were released after being questioned by a prosecutor, and a lawsuit was filed against Koca, demanding that he serve between 1.5 and five years in prison for “resisting a police officer” and “insulting a public official,” following complaints by the seven police officers. Koca’s lawyer Efkan Bolaç said 

“This police brutality reminds us of the 1990s. That’s why we are asking for a no-tolerance policy for torture and torturers,” his lawyer, Bolaç, said.

The imdat polis line will be active after the Şeker Bayram holiday, lawyer Taylan Tanay told the Hürriyet Daily News. It will operate 24 hours a day with the assistance of lawyers registered to the Istanbul Bar with at least five years of experience. He said the council would publish a report regarding reviews every three months. The report will list the police stations from which torture claims have arisen as a warning to citizens. “We expect the Interior Ministry and security officials to take necessary measures according to the result of the reports,” Tanay said.