Turkish lawmakers pass law to exert greater control over NGOs

This statement was originally published on bianet.org on 28 December 2020.

A bill increasing controls on civil society groups was approved in the parliament yesterday, December 27, 2020.

The legislation permits the Ministry of Interior to replace NGO executives who are prosecuted for “terrorism” charges with new members and suspend the activities of groups.

NGOs have criticized the bill, saying that it will harm freedom of association and allow the government to repress civil society groups.

The law also regulates the collection of donations and funding through the internet. As such, collecting donations and funding online will be subject to permission by the Ministry of Interior and those who collect donations without permission will be fined from 10,000 to 200,000 Turkish liras (approx. 1,350 to 26,500 USD).

All facilities, businesses and partnerships of association and foundations may be inspected by the relevant ministries and agencies upon a request by the Ministry of Interior.

Although the law is named the “Law on Preventing the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction,” only six of its 43 articles are about this issue, while the rest of text refers to the regulations on associations and fundraising.

According to the law, the assets of individuals and organizations sanctioned by the UNSC [United Nations Security Council] for “funding terrorism” will be frozen in a swifter procedure.

The operations of foreign foundations working in Turkey will be inspected regularly by the ministry. The collection and distribution of funds abroad by Turkey-based foundations in the form of aid and donations will be also regulated by the ministry.

The inspections will be carried out by the Inspection and Cooperation Committee, which will be headed by the Financial Crimes Investigation Board and include members from ministries.

Click here to read the article in Turkish

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Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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