Istanbul's alcohol directive sparks legal controversy

Istanbul's alcohol directive sparks legal controversy
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Legal experts claim hidden intent in the Governorate's circular on alcohol consumption.

By Osman Cakli

A directive from the Istanbul Governorate about alcohol in public spaces is causing intense debates. Some legal experts think there is a hidden agenda to ban despite the Istanbul Governor's Office denying it.

Lawyer Mustafa Aydin Basalmaz has been vocal in pointing out the ambiguities in the circular. According to him, "The governor's office does not have the mandate to impose such restrictions on public behavior using mere directives." He further suggests that the directive's vague wording could be a concealed effort to institute a ban.

Elucidating on the matter, Basalmaz said, "Legally, there's no prohibition on consuming alcohol in public areas, be it parks or picnic spots. Neither the Turkish Penal Code nor the Law on Misdemeanors supports such a stance." He added that penalties could arise if individuals consuming alcohol create public disturbances, but such sentences should be case-specific.

However, the directive from the Governorate appears to suggest a different story. As Basalmaz indicated, "It implies that alcohol, even when purchased from licensed sources, should not be consumed in coastal or recreational spots. This deviates from standard practices."

The Istanbul Governor's Office responded by "highlighting existing laws," indicating that alcohol consumption and sales should be restricted to licensed premises, excluding public areas like beaches and parks.

Basalmaz critiqued this standpoint, suggesting that while there's no direct mention of a prohibition, there's an underlying intent to curtail public drinking. He said, "The governor's decision leaves room for broad interpretation, which might lead to potential unwarranted restrictions."

Furthermore, Basalmaz raised concerns over the ability of such a directive to infringe upon the fundamental rights of citizens. He referred to similar directives during the pandemic: "Decisions like curfews and mandatory mask-wearing had no legal foundation. The same can be said for this directive. It can't dictate or limit the rights and freedoms of the populace."

In conclusion, Basalmaz complained about the overarching implications of such ambiguous directives. He believes it's an attempt to meddle subtly with the societal lifestyles of Istanbul's residents.