In a move widely condemned by civil societies, lawmakers in Turkey have approved bills that will give the state the power to control activities of all pressure groups in the country.
Turkish lawmakers increase state powers over civil society activities
Turkey’s lawmakers have given the go-ahead on a bill that seeks more government control about the activities of civil groups. Many rights groups have called for its abolishment, insisting it violates the freedom of association bill.
This bill seeks fresh articles on civil groups and foundations, included in the bill on “Preventing Financing of Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction,” lets the yearly checking of non-governmental groups, in a bid to stop terrorism financing.
The bill also allows the government to change members of these civil groups if there exists any form of investigation of terrorism activities leveled against them. This law also gives them the legal power to use the courts to stop their activities. It lets courts to block access to the online donations they may possess without a license.
Civil society kick against such move
Nearly 700 civil society groups signed a petition against the bill, saying it is a ploy to stop funding for their activities. Also, they believe that the bill goes against the Turkish Constitution, which promotes freedom of association.
Human Rights Watch said in a heavily worded statement before the vote that the Turkish government should respect opposition and criticism and stop all bills that want to gag people’s voices.
The rights group warned this bill would “increase the restriction of the activities of all civil organization and individuals engaged in any form.” This is not the first time that Turkey has attempted to strangle free speech among pressure groups it has regularly come under fire for its incessant clampdown on civil societies. It is highly doubtful if this bill will be withdrawn as the lawmakers have refused to bulge on similar matter.