Turkey’s civil society denounces NGO bill

More than 500 civil society organizations in Turkey issued a joint statement against a draft bill Turkish parliament has introduced to vote.

The proposed Law on Preventing Financing of Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction was submitted to parliament last week by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which maintains the regulation was introduced to comply with a United Nations Security Council counter-terrorism resolution and in response to a 2019 report by the Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental money-laundering and terrorism financing.

All NGOs in Turkey will “risk being shut down with a single signature,” if the bill passes as-is, the civil society statement said. As it stands, the proposal will allow the government to take control of executive boards, restrict donations and fundraising activities, and impose Interior Ministry control over civil society, it added.

Six out of the bill’s 43 articles include means and regulations to combat financing of terrorism, Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Thursday, and the rest “grant the Interior Ministry and the president wide authority to restrict the activities of independent groups and diminish their role.”

The HRW also called on the Turkish government to withdraw provisions that would potentially violate the right to freedom of association.

Turkey’s crackdown on civil society intensified after 2016, when the government declared a state of emergency following a failed coup attempt and presidential decrees shut down 1,748 foundations and associations in the span of two years, according to a report by BBC Turkish.

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