Turkey is exploiting the findings of a report on terrorism and money laundering to push through “draconian laws” that are designed to target civil society, according to Amnesty International.
Law No.7262 on the Prevention of the Financing of the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction creates new provisions that Amnesty says “violate the rights to freedom of association and expression, as well as internationally recognized fair trial guarantees.”
Amnesty added that the “outlandish law” was pushed through quickly under the guise of combatting terrorism when its real purpose is to put more pressure on civil society, which has already borne the brunt of “more than five years of a relentless crackdown.”
Since the attempted Coup d’Etat in 2016, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government have come down hard on civil society, journalists, activists, opposition, military, and those working as teachers and in some city services.
Some 1,300 foundations and organizations were shut down and more than 180 media outlets were forced to close due to allegations of links to “terrorist” organizations.
He designated Fethullah Gulen and his followers as terrorists and proceeded to arrest and detain those he believed to be associated with. This included extraterritorial kidnappings and shady deals with other countries, including Albania, to deport them back to Turkey.
“The new law joins Turkey’s arsenal of counter-terrorism laws, many of which are routinely used to target human rights defenders and civil society organizations, including Amnesty International. It threatens to escalate the pressure on civil society activists who already face prosecution and conviction on trumped-up terrorism charges,” Amnesty said in their statement.
The new law comes just days before the FATF Plenary Meeting, which will be held from 21 June. The body will review Turkey’s compliance with the FATF 2019 assessment, which found the country was only partially compliant.
The FATF recommended that Turkey implement a “risk-based approach” and create proportionate measures for NGOs and NPOs which are identified as carrying a risk of terrorism financing abuse.
Amnesty states that the law goes far beyond the FATF recommendations and threatens to “further erode the exercise of the rights to freedom of association and expression, and a range of other human rights.”
Under the new rules, the government can suspend board members and staff and dissolve organizations as they choose.
Turkey is continuing to keep in prison a prominent civil society figure, Osman Kavala, and it convicted Amnesty International’s Turkish honorary chair, Taner Kilic, and three other individuals.
“The cases expose how counterterrorism measures in Turkey have been weaponized against political opponents, journalists, human rights defenders, and civil society organizations.,” the statement reads.