Turkey has passed a law granting immunity to soldiers fighting Kurdish militants in the southeast, a move that human rights activists warn will “encourage abuses”.

The law, passed by the Turkish parliament late on Thursday, was hailed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which said it would boost the confidence of soldiers fighting “terrorists” in the country’s southeast.

“This law is an Eid gift for our brave security forces who are courageously fighting terrorists in the region,” Defense Minister Fikri Isik told parliament.

“It is a very important law that will boost their morale and motivation.”

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, warned on Saturday that the immunity law could see abuses by the military proliferate in the southeast: