On Wednesday, Turkey’s parliament passed a controversial bill by giving neighborhood patrols greater powers. The critics started accusing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying he wants to build a loyal ‘militia’.
According to the new law, nightwatchmen, who walk the streets at night to report the crime on the streets, almost the same authority as the police.
The nightwatchmen will be now allowed to carry firearms and not only this, but they will also have the power to stop and search people.
The nightwatchmen institution has more than 28,000 members. The institution is attached to the interior ministry and is in existence for more than 100 years. The members have grown considerably after an attempted coup in July 2016 against Erdogan.
During a feisty session on Tuesday, the new bill created heated debate in the parliament.
According to Erdogan’s AKP party, the new bill will allow the nightwatchmen to work more efficiently and will help law enforcement by thwarting burglaries and preventing street crime.
Mahir Polat from CHP party said on Tuesday that,
“They are using the institution of night-watchmen to set up a militia”, adding the police should be reinforced if needed.