Western allies find Turkey’s anti-terror bill insufficient
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
The controversial law aiming to prevent financing of terror acts might not be feasible in international fight against terror. DAILY NEWS photo / Selahattin SÖNMEZ
An anti-terror law aiming to prevent financing of terror acts is insufficient in enhancing international collaboration as it does not address clandestine acts of global terror networks like al-Qaeda, according to Turkey’s Western ally countries.
“The current version of the law is not going to strengthen the hands of those who are fighting against global terrorism,” is the assessment of Turkey’s leading allies, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned from diplomatic sources.
The bill these sources referred to is the Law on the Prevention of Financing Terrorism being discussed at the General Assembly and approved today. If Parliament fails to adopt this law, Turkey is due to be put on the black list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Feb. 22.
Although Turkey joined the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism in 1999, it dragged its feet when it came to implementing the treaty. Turkey had frozen assets of individuals and blocked their financial transactions upon U.N. Security Council resolutions, but FATF rules, approved by Turkey, stipulate that freezing should be possible at the request of individual countries as well.
One of the most important objections of Turkey’s Western powers is that the definition of terror reflected in Turkish laws is not an international one and intentionally is drafted to address the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Additionally, they observed that the law only addresses terrorist attacks committed against the Turkish state and ignores attacks against other countries or citizens by al-Qaeda or other global terror networks. The website of the Financial Crimes Investigation Board confirms this definition. “Terrorism in Turkish law is confined to acts committed against the Turkish Republic and acts committed against a foreign state or an international organization are not considered within the definition of terrorism.”
A second criticism of the draft law is that it makes the process of freezing one’s assets or blocking financial transactions very complicated and bureaucratic even though the anti-terror fight requires immediate actions. Under the draft law, a request from another country is assessed at a Cabinet meeting and requires the signature of each minister before the Financial Crimes Investigation Board is assigned to investigate the third country’s request. The results of the investigation are then to be submitted to a commission of seven members from different institutions. The approval of five members out of seven is required for freezing the assets of the suspected individual.
According to sources, this process could take months and could inhibit the anti-terror fight. It has been suggested to Turkey to create a faster mechanism whereby the government can take action to freeze assets of suspected individuals for a certain period of time. Under these conditions, sources maintained, international collaboration with Turkey in the fight against terror will not be feasible.