12/28/2020, 10.15
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Ankara issues law against NGOs and activism

Critics slam the law introduced by Erdogan's party as unconstitutional and contrary to the international treaties signed. It will end up "destroying civil society". The state can replace the leaders of the associations with trusted people. Law expert: unpredictable in its practical application.

Istanbul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Turkish parliament has approved a law that strengthens the government's control over foundations and associations. According to critics, it severely limits the freedom of movement of organizations themselves and civil society, silencing conflicting voices.

Jurists and experts underline that the norm, approved yesterday, would be in open conflict with the dictates of the Turkish Constitution and with the directives contained in Article 11 of the European Convention for Human Rights (Echr).

Parliament approved the bill put forward by the ruling Akp party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday morning. It grants the state the power to replace the boards of directors and committees of NGOs with trusted people, suspend their operations and monitor the activity of public employees. Goods and online donation campaigns risk pre-emptive blocking to “prevent money laundering and terrorist financing”.

The Ministry of the Interior is also given the power to replace members under investigation for terrorism. This charge is already used in Turkey to target journalists, political opponents, critical voices, dissidents and ordinary citizens who are not aligned with the will of the authorities or belonging to the Kurdish minority.

In the days leading up to the vote, hundreds of associations and NGOs launched petitions to block approval, because it would end up "destroying civil society".

"Given that thousands of activists, journalists, politicians, members of professional organizations - underline in a statement - are under investigation for crimes related to terrorism, there is no doubt that this law will target almost all associations" considered enemies.

Asked by Bianet, the constitutionalist and expert in Turkish law Şule Özsoy-Boyunsuz, scholar and professor of Constitutional law at Galatasaray University, stresses that "Turkey unfortunately has a very negative and restrictive attitude towards rights and activist organizations". To illustrate the consequences of the law, the jurist explains: “The government could wake up one morning, take a random association and close it the next day. This law has no degree of predictability in its practical application”.

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