A constitutional amendment to combat terrorism in Sweden entered into force on January 1, according to a press release by the Swedish Justice Ministry.
“[The amendment] will make it possible to restrict freedom of association for groups that engage in terrorism. This means that Sweden will be able to fight terrorism in more and new ways,” the ministry said.
The press release was also shared in Turkish on the Twitter account of the Swedish Embassy in Ankara.
According to the release, titled “Constitutional amendment provides stronger opportunities in the fight against terrorism,” Sweden is exerting intensive efforts, alone and together with other states, to counter terrorist threats.
1 Ocak 2023’te İsveç’te bir anayasa değişikliği yürürlüğe girdi. Yapılan anayasa değişikliği İsveç’in teröre karşı yeni ve daha kapsamlı imkanlarla mücadele edebileceği anlamına geliyor. pic.twitter.com/u5sJNW5iAs
— SwedeninAnkara / İsveç Büyükelçiliği (@SwedenAnkara) January 2, 2023
The constitutional amendment, voted on November 16 in the Swedish parliament, was a key demand from Turkey in order to approve Sweden’s application to join NATO.
A non-binding deal Sweden and fellow NATO aspirant Finland signed with Turkey in June commits them to “expeditiously and thoroughly” examine Ankara’s requests for suspects linked to the Gülen movement and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.
The amendment, which passed with 278 votes in Sweden’s 349-seat parliament, makes it possible to introduce new laws to “limit freedom of association when it comes to associations that engage in or support terrorism.”
According to parliament’s standing committee on constitutional affairs, which recommended that MPs approve the proposal, it will enable “wider criminalization of participation in a terrorist organization or a ban against terrorist organization.”
Experts have said new legislation would make it easier to prosecute members of the outlawed PKK.
During a visit to Ankara in November, Sweden’s new prime minister, Ulf Kristersson, described the constitutional amendment as a “big step.”
“Sweden will take big steps by the end of the year and early next year that will give Swedish legal authorities more muscle to fight terrorism,” he said at a joint press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
In Sweden, a constitutional amendment must be approved by two separate parliaments, with a general election held in between.
The first vote passed under Sweden’s previous left-wing government in April, before Sweden’s formal decision to apply for NATO membership in mid-May.
Only the country’s Left Party expressed opposition to the change.