Turkey refuses to modify anti-terrorism law

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan announced May 6 that he does not plan to change the country's anti-terrorism law, a requirement of a deal struck between Turkey and the EU in March. Erdo─čan made the announcement after Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who was the key figure in achieving this deal, announced he would step down. EU leaders agreed to the deal with Turkey to stem migrant flows to Europe, particularly of Syrian refugees, in return for financial and political incentive to Ankara. One of the benefits for Turkey was visa-free travel for Turks, but a change in the anti-terrorism law is one requirement that Turkey is required to complete before the EU makes that determination. Erdo─čan had previously told EU leaders that if all promises were not fulfilled, Turkey would not continue its responsibilities to receive migrants under the deal. Experts have expressed concern that the EU-Turkey deal may fall apart if Turkey does not agree to changes in the anti-terrorism law.

From Jurist, May 6. Used with permission.

Note: In rejecting the EU's request to change the law, Erdo─čan said: "When Turkey is under attack from terrorist organizations and the powers that support them directly, or indirectly, the EU is telling us to change the law on terrorism… I'm sorry, we're going our way, you go yours." Rights groups say Turkey has used broad anti-terrorism powers to silence dissent, including detaining journalists and academics critical of the government. (Reuters) Dropping or modifying the law was demanded by activists after Turkey's peace deal with Kurdish guerillas announced last year; instead, the peace deal broke down amid mutual attacks between guerillas and security forces. Erdo─čan has since called for the anti-terrorism law to be tightened, expanding the definition of "terrorism" to include anyone supporting "terrorism"—including legislators, academics, journalists or activists.