Turkish government seeks to ramp up anti-alcohol policies with new draft bill

A draft bill prepared by the ruling AKP seeks to further hinder alcohol sales, the daily BirGün reported on May 10. The Islamist-rooted AKP has been under fire recently for banning alcohol sales as part of COVID-19 restrictions.

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The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) presented draft legislation that will further make selling alcohol difficult by mandating law enforcement approval for all businesses that sell alcohol, the daily BirGün reported on May 10.

Designed to implement 20 amendments in nine laws, the draft bill was presented as a modification to the rights of elected neighborhood leaders, aka mukhtars, in Turkey. 

The draft bill seeks to mandate that municipalities will need to obtain approval from law enforcement to hand out liquor licenses, and allows for governors and district governors to regulate operation hours of all businesses that sell alcohol.

The reasoning for the amendments said that businesses that sell alcohol were "problematic" areas and that they took up entire neighborhoods and disrupted public peace.

Any business that sells alcohol and was opened without law enforcement "approval" can be closed by police, the draft bill says, and that any local government that fails to fine "illegally opened" liquor stores will also be fined.

Any business that defies their closure and continues operations will be fined with increasing sums, the draft bill said, and that they will be banned from operations until they are able to obtain a license. 

The AKP has been under fire recently for their attempts at banning alcohol sales during the COVID-19 pandemic, most recently ruling to ban all but essential goods during a national lockdown that will last until May 17.