Turkish parliament debate on new non-governmental organizations

The Turkish Parliament Friday began debate on a controversial new law that would grant the government more power to regulate non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The title of the proposed law is “Preventing the Financing of the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction,” and it purports to help the government crack down on the financing of terrorist organizations as well as on money laundering in general. Under the law, the Interior Ministry could replace the leaders of NGOs under investigation by the police, halt all their activities, seize their assets, and require them to turn over all their records to the government. The government, led by President Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), has cracked down on dissent in the country since it put down a coup attempt in 2016.

Human rights groups decried the new bill, with Human Rights Watch calling on parliament to withdraw the bil from consideration. Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia Director, said the bill is a “dangerous tool to limit freedom of association.” Dunja Mijatovic, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, tweetedthat the Turkish Parliament “should discontinue attempts to introduce legislation further restricting legitimate NGO activities.” The Human Rights Joint Platform (IHOP), a coalition of human rights groups, issued a statementcondemning the process and reasoning that led to the proposed bill, noting that it was written without any input from human rights or civil society organizations and that the legislation would bring about “a huge restriction over the freedom of association.”

najib razak

Malaysia launches controversial new security laws

Controversial new security laws took effect Monday in Malaysia. Backed by Prime Minister Najib Razak [BBC profile], the National Security Act will allow government authorities [Al Jazeera report] to declare martial law in areas deemed to be under a security threat. Police will be able to conduct warrantless searches, seize property and impose curfews. Najib has defended the legislation as necessary to combat terrorism, but rights groups such as Amnesty International have criticized the measures as draconian. “With this new law, the government now has spurned checks and assumed potentially abusive powers,” said Josef Benedict, AI’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific. Others have noted that the laws come amid a scandal in which billions of dollars were stolen from a state investment fund that Najib founded and oversaw. He has denied any wrongdoing.

najib razak

Much controversy has surrounded Najib’s terms as prime minister. In October Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] accused the government of abusing broad, vaguely worded laws to jail its critics [JURIST report]. In July of last year Najib fired [JURIST report] Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail after learning that Patail was investigating him for corruption. That same month, two major opposition parties called for [JURIST report] an emergency sitting of parliament in order to discuss Najib’s future as prime minister. In 2006, Najib was accused [BBC report] of being connected to the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu, after her remains were found in October of that year in Kuala Lumpur. Najib , who was deputy prime minister at the time, denied having any connections to the murder or even knowing the model. A political analyst and associate of Najib’s was charged with aiding [BBC report] the murder, but these charges were later dropped.