Istanbul Lawyers Go to Court Over Governor’s Alcohol Clampdown

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Lawyers say circular issued by the city governor banning alcohol consumption in public places such as parks and beaches violates the Turkish constitution and European conventions.

The Istanbul Governor’s new ban on alcohol consumption in public places such as parks and beaches has been taken to court by the Istanbul Bar Association.

Lawyers want the court to suspend and cancel the circular, saying that it is a violation of the Turkish constitution and European conventions.

“The circular entitled ‘Alcohol Sale and Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages’ issued by the Istanbul Governor … violates citizens’ right to privacy that is guaranteed by the 20th article of the Constitution and the 8th article of the European Convention on Human Rights,” the Istanbul Bar Association said in a statement on Thursday.

The circular justifies the “preventive measures”, claiming that “persons involved in criminal incidents were mostly found to be intoxicated”.

“In complaints made to the relevant authorities, it has been determined that the persons involved in incidents that disrupt public order and disturb the public peace and security within the borders of our province are mostly alcoholics. People who drink alcohol in public parks, beaches and similar areas cause fear and panic in our citizens,” the Governor stated in a press release on August 30.

The circular orders fines for those who drink alcohol in public and their detention until they become sober.

The Istanbul Governor’s Office said on Thursday, in another statement, that the ban was not new and that the circular was only a “reminder” to enforce existing rules.

The decision is the latest in a series of restrictive measures made by the political Islamist government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan regarding alcohol consumption.

For the past 10 years, liquor shops have been prohibited from selling alcohol after 10 p.m. The government has also hiked taxes on alcoholic beverages over the years. More than 60 per cent of the retail price of high-alcohol drinks like Turkish raki, vodka, and gin consists of taxes. The tax rate for a bottle of beer is around 55 per cent.

Alcohol consumption is already banned at festivals, concerts, and other cultural events. This has forced many Istanbulites to consume alcohol in their homes, due to the high prices charged in bars and restaurants.

Source : Balkaninsight