London Advocacy co-published “Weaponization of Anti-Terror Financing Measures: The Turkish government’s new transnational repression tool to silence its critics.”

Director of Justice Abroad, Barrister Michael Polak, has co-published a new report with Brussels based lawyer Ali Yildiz for the International Journalists Association (IJA) titled “Weaponization of Anti-Terror Financing Measures: The Turkish Government’s New Transnational Repression Tool to Silence its Critics”.

This report addresses the Turkish government’s abuse of anti-terrorism financing laws which are supposed to be used to fight the financing of terrorism but are instead being used by the Turkish Government to target the finances of those opposed to it when they escape abroad. The report explains that since 2014, Turkish authorities have constantly abused the country’s overly broad anti-terrorism laws for political reasons and have requested that foreign domestic financial authorities and international organisations blacklist individuals, making their lives outside of Turkey difficult when they have escaped to democratic countries.

The report covers several key issues. Chapter II sets out the Turkish government’s transnational repression campaign. Chapter IV provides an overview of the asset freezing decisions adopted in April and December 2021. Chapter V examines the purpose of these decisions with a focus on the use of influence on foreign financial and financial intelligence institutions as well as the Amendment to Article 7 of Law no. 6415 which introduced a new mechanism through which to send requests for the freezing of assets to foreign countries, and in Chapter VI, the report presents the findings of a survey conducted on the consequences of the asset freezing decisions.

Chapter VII sets out the reports on the amendments to the Law on the Prevention of the Financing of Terrorism (Law No. 6415) by Amnesty International and the Third Sector Foundation of Turkey. Chapter VIII analyses the international legal framework on anti-terrorism law. It first examines attempts at providing a definition by the United Nations, the European Union and the Council of Europe in regards to terrorism and then submits that observing human rights and freedoms is an integral part of combatting terrorism and that these freedoms should not be targeted under the guise of anti-terrorism funding legislation.

Chapter IX details the abuse of anti-terrorism laws by the Turkish government whilst Chapter X outlines the unintended consequences of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Standards when applied by autocratic states such as Turkey.

Barrister Michael Polak stated the following about the report: ‘This report is the first in depth look at the use of anti-terrorism funding laws to target those who have escaped from the repressive Turkish regime. Those who believe they are safe from persecution by the Turkish Government, whether on the basis of their political beliefs or ethnicity, have suffered greatly when the Turkish Government has used international financial institutions, as well as domestic financial bodies around the world to attack their ability to live freely outside of Turkey. International bodies, as well as domestic authorities, need to realise the use to which such anti-terrorism funding laws can be put by autocratic regimes and act to prevent this by putting states who use such provisions for such purposes on blacklists and warning them that their anti-terrorism funding submissions will be ignored if they continue to use them for improper purposes.’

Attorney Ali Yildiz stated the following: ‘As even Financial Action Task Force admits there are unintended consequences of anti-terror financing measures, international bodies, national financial conduct authorities and financial institutions should be cautious about the Turkish government’s designations and measures with regard to anti-terror financing (ATF) and anti-money laundering (AML) framework.’

Please download the full report from the left panel of this page.

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