Turkish government may misuse bill on terror finance: Main opposition

Turkish government may misuse bill on terror finance: Main opposition

Turkish government may misuse bill on terror finance: Main opposition

Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Şahin answered the questions of the deputies about the draft bill. AA photo

In an effort to avoid Turkey’s demotion to the “black list” of an international finance body, Parliament began debating a bill to prevent the financing of terrorism on Feb. 6, as the opposition party fears the government may misuse the bill to put economic pressure on dissident NGOs, municipalities, companies and businesspeople.

“Considering the fact that those who oppose the ruling party have been put in jail for being ‘terrorists,’ a government-authorized commission will be able to freeze financial assets of all dissident media outlets, associations, companies, labor unions, political parties, businesspeople, foundations and trade bodies,” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmakers said in their minute of dissent on the draft law.

Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) lawmaker Murat Bozlak said the bill intends to cause trouble for Kurdish businesspeople. “This bill will cause thousands of Kurdish businessmen to be sent to prison following thousands of Kurdish politicians,” Bozlak said in his dissenting opinion. 

International pressure 

The draft bill on the prevention of financing of terrorism has long been on the agenda of Parliament since the government submitted it to Parliament’s Justice Commission on Oct. 21, 2011. The government defends the bill, arguing that Turkey is under international pressure to adopt the necessary legislation regarding the international financial traffic of terrorism.

CHP lawmakers said that the Examination Commission will be able to freeze assets of individuals and institutions on grounds that they are financing terrorist organizations even if there is no demand from foreign countries. “The commission may impose this sanction on ongoing trials. Nobody should be surprised if an operation is launched against individuals who provide financial assistance to a dissident association,” the CHP’s dissenting opinion said.

Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek rebuffed suggestions that the bill aimed to put pressure on public opposition, saying that individuals residing in Turkey are being tried as part of current legislation in case they are allegedly financing terrorist organizations and new regulation does not bring something new for Turkish citizens residing in Turkey.