Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan [official profile] announced Friday that he does not plan to change the country’s anti-terrorism law, a requirement of a deal struck between Turkey and EU in March. Erdoğan made the announcement [Middle East Online report] after Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who was the key figure in achieving this deal, announced he would step down from his position. EU leaders agreed to a deal [JURIST report] with Turkey to stem migrant flows, particularly of Syrian refugees, to Europe 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. Erdoğan had previously told [AFP report] 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.
The rights of migrant populations has emerged as one of the most significant humanitarian issues around the world. Last month several aid organizations urged [JURIST report] EU leaders to stop deportations of migrants from Greece to Turkey and to stop detaining asylum seekers. Also, Turkey’s treatment of human rights have been a cause for concern due to the growing partnership with the EU caused by the refugee crisis. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights called [JURIST report] on Turkey to focus on human rights in the wake of their anti-terrorism security measures. In March UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged [JURIST report] world leaders to accept more refugees and to combat the growing international anti-refugee sentiments. In addition, last month, an independent UN human rights expert encouraged EU leaders to remain steadfast [JURIST report] in their obligations to handle the recent influx of migrants to the EU and to avoid making Turkey the “gatekeeper”