Türkiye: Ongoing threats to freedom of association

Controversial Law No. 7262 on the Prevention of the Financing of the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction was swiftly passed on 31 December 2021, following a brief deliberation by the Turkish Justice Commission in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM). This law’s stated purpose was to implement the recommendations of the Turkish Financial Action Task Force (FATF), along with a series of UN Security Council resolutions. However, most of its articles either lacked any direct connection with this purpose or introduced measures that clearly exceeded its scope.

In its 2019 Mutual Evaluation Report, the FATF set out recommendations for combatting the financing of terrorism and money laundering and outlined the potential risks associated with non-profit organisations (NPOs). Its recommendation No. 8 was for an independent, risk-based assessment of NPOs to prevent their legitimate activities from being targeted, interrupted or penalised. However, under Law No. 7262 all NPOs, including human rights organisations, are deemed to pose a risk and are therefore subjected to disproportionate measures that are tantamount to harassment.

On examination, this piece of legislation, which amends seven Turkish laws including the Law on Associations and the Law on Aid Collection, introduces strict supervision, surveillance and restrictions on the rights to association and the independence of activities. The amendments grant the authorities in Turkey arbitrary control over online aid collection and constrain civil society organisations (CSOs) activities and partnerships through increased fines and burdensome audits. They also allow the dismissal of the executives and staff of associations facing prosecution or convicted on terrorism-related charges, thereby unreasonably restricting or terminating their activities.

This briefing note is the fifth in a series documenting the collapse of the rule of law in Turkey and is based on the work of OMCT’s partners in Turkey. Read it in English and Turkish.