The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović urged the Turkish parliament on Dec. 22 to block a draft bill that would allow the Interior Ministry and governor's offices to implement serious restrictions on non-governmental organizations.
Outlined as legislation that combats the spread of weapons of mass destruction, the bill prepared by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) would allow state agencies to replace NGO administrations or suspend their activities indefinitely.
Although the bill states that any administrator who would be replaced would need to be a defendant in a terrorism lawsuit, these are already Ankara's go-to charges to criminalize critics of the government and are common among oppositional opinion leaders.
"The #TurkishParliament should discontinue attempts to introduce legislation further restricting legitimate NGO activities, including replacement of NGO leaders facing investigations under anti-terror laws with gov-appointed trustees & restrictions on fund-raising activities," Mijatović said in a tweet on Dec. 22.
The #TurkishParliament should discontinue attempts to introduce legislation further restricting legitimate NGO activities, incl replacement of NGO leaders facing investigations under anti-terror laws with gov-appointed trustees & restrictions on fund-raising activities. #Turkey— Commissioner for Human Rights (@CommissionerHR) December 22, 2020
While Turkey's political opposition also recently issued a counter statement to the draft legislation, hundreds of NGOs launched a petition to stop the bill on the grounds that it would "destroy civil society" in the country.