Turkey's parliament [official website, in Turkish] on Thursday approved legislation to prohibit terrorism financing. In passing this legislation [ANA report], Turkey may have narrowly avoided expulsion from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) [official webpage]. Turkish President Abduallah Gul [BBC profile] now has 15 days to approve the legislation, after which it can be enacted. FATF has given Turkey until February 22 [FATF public statement] to remedy deficiencies in its terrorist financing offense and establish an adequate legal framework for identifying and freezing terrorist assets consistent with the FATF Recommendations. Expulsion from the FATF would have put Turkey in the company of countries like Iran and North Korea, restricted foreign activity with Turkish banks and negatively affected its credit ratings [Reuters report].
Turkey's anti-terrorism legislation has been shrouded in controversy for some time. The Council of Europe [official website] on Tuesday urged Turkey [JURIST report] to move more quickly in its efforts to reform legislation. Council Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland [official profile], speaking at a conference in Ankara, emphasized the importance of reform in the laws governing freedom of expression and anti-terrorism. In January a Turkish Court charged nine lawyers [JURIST report] for membership in an outlawed group under Turkey's anti-terrorism laws. The lawyers, including some human rights advocates, are accused of being associated with the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (RPLP), a group that advocates for a Marxist state and has claimed responsibility for violence and assassinations in the country since the 1970s. Most recently, the group claimed responsibility [NYT report] for a suicide bombing attack on the US Embassy in Ankara. The UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) [official website] criticized Turkey in November for prosecuting activists [JURIST report] under the country's vague counter-terrorism law.