The Law on Preventing Financing of Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction adopted in Turkey entered into force on 31 December 2020. The draft was submitted to the Presidency of Turkish Grand National Assembly on 16 December 2020 and approved by the Parliament on 27 December 2020.
As stated in the rationale of the draft law, the main reasoning of the law is “to catch up with international standards in the fight against the financing of terrorism and laundering offenses in light of the 2019 report of the FATF and the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.
The Law consists of 43 articles that make changes in 6 separate laws. 11 articles out of 43 about associations’ activities bring CSOs under tighter control: 7 articles are related to the Law on Associations and 4 articles are related to the Law on Aid Collection. These changes raise serious concern for the enabling environment for CSOs in Turkey.
The four articles, from 7 to 10, amend the Law on Collection of Aid, No: 2860.
- With Article 7 of the law, online aid campaigns are included within the scope of Law No. 2860. This means that having permission to launch online aid campaigns have become obligatory. According to this new amendment, when an unauthorized online aid campaign is detected, the relevant governorship and the Ministry of Interior will be authorized to request removal of the content within 24 hours or to apply to the magistrate of peace for a blocking order if the campaign provider cannot be reached out or notification cannot be delivered due to technical reasons.
- With Article 10, an administrative fine on violation of the Law on Collection of Aid may be imposed from 5.000 to 100.000 TRY. In case of an unauthorized collection of aid on the internet, the prescribed lower and upper limits of fines are doubled. Those who aid and abet in any unauthorized aid collection will be also sanctioned with an administrative fine of 5.000 TRY if they do not end this activity despite a notice.
- Article 8 of the law prescribes that the procedures and principles regarding the aids provided domestically and abroad shall be regulated with a by-law.
- With Article 9, those assigned to conduct the audit for the collection of aid activities are authorized to request relevant information and documents from natural persons and legal entities, including banks as well as public institutions and organizations. According to this article, those who are requested cannot avoid giving information and documents by relying the provisions in relevant laws.
Seven articles, from Article 11 to 17, amend the Law on Associations, No: 5253.
- With Article 11, associations and foundations which have headquarters abroad have become subject to the provisions of Law No. 5253 on Associations.
- With Article 12, those convicted of crimes within the scope of the Law on the Prevention of Financing of Terrorism No. 6415 or of crimes of drug trafficking and money laundering are prohibited from sitting in the organs of associations other than the general assembly, even if the sentences of those persons were pardoned. In the event that a prosecution is initiated against the board members or staff of associations as regards the aforementioned crimes, Article 15 allows the Minister of Interior to suspend the individuals or the organs that the relevant individuals hold a post as a temporary measure. According to this amendment, Minister of Interior can immediately apply to the civil courts of first instance to request temporary suspension of activities of the association when the aforementioned ‘temporary measure’ deemed as inefficient. The requirement for a temporary suspension was an investigation in the Draft Law, which was revamped to a prosecution after the debates in the General Assembly. The amendment also enables an appointment of a trustee to the associations following the initiation of the specified measures.
- With article 13, the scope of the audit for associations is also expanded, and the audits of the associations are prescribed to be carried out by public servants annually, no later than every three years, according to the risk assessments to be performed.
- With Article 14, the notification of the relevant administrative authority prior to aids to be remitted abroad from Turkey became obligatory.
- With Article 16, penalties are imposed for below the cases:
– The sentence of imprisonment up to 3 months foreseen in Art. 32(k) of the Law for a failure to give or show all kinds of information, documents and records and allow a visit to the administrative places, establishments and their annexes upon the request of the supervisory board members of the association (internal audit) or relevant government officials (external audit) has been increased from 3 months to 1 year or a judicial fine.
– According to the Art. 32(k), in the case that the mandatory books and documents that are kept by the associations are unreadable or lost for a reason, this should be notified to the competent court of a place where a headquarter of the association is operating. Those who do not notify to the court within 15 days or submit the books during the audit process will be sanctioned with a prison sentence of 3 months to 1 year or a judicial fine.
– According to the Art. 32(k), breaching obligation to notify about the aid sent abroad and the aid received from abroad and the obligation to transfer the aid through a bank shall be subjected to an administrative fine from 5,000 TRY to 100,000 TRY.
– An administrative fine of up to 10% of the amount subject to the transaction will be imposed to the association executives who fail to make any expenditure and payments that is more than 7.000 TRY via banks and other financial institutions.
– In parallel with the amended Art. 3 of the Law (as regards an indefinite prohibition of persons convicted of certain crimes from taking responsibility in organs other than the general assembly of associations) by means of aforementioned Art. 12, an administrative fine of 1.500 TRY is imposed to those who work in the organs of the association and the executives of the association who do not fulfil their duties prescribed in Art. 3 within seven days despite written warning. In the event that these persons are not terminated from their duties in organs within 30 days despite the second written warning made by the local administrative authority, a procedural action will be held in accordance with Article 89 of the Turkish Civil Code which leads to a dissolution of the association in question.
- According to the Article 17, the provisions of this law became applicable to branches of associations, governing organizations of associations and foundations, branches of associations and foundations which have headquarters abroad and their permission to operate and develop cooperation in Turkey.