Scope of reception conditions in LFIP
While the LFIP does not employ the term of “reception conditions” as such, Art 88 and 89 of the LFIP commit a set of rights, entitlements and benefits for international protection applicants, which thematically and substantially fall within the scope of the EU Reception Conditions Directive.
Art 88 and 89 of the LFIP govern the level of provision and access that shall be granted to international protection applicants (and status holders) in the areas of education, health care, social assistance and services, access to labour market, financial allowance. As per Art 95 of the LFIP, Turkey does not commit the provision of shelter to international protection on applicants, but authorizes DGMM to extend, on discretionary basis, state-funded accommodation to international protection applicants under the auspices of “Reception and Accommodation Centres”. At present there is only one such “Reception and Accommodation Centres” in operation, but 5 more facilities are in the pipeline. As per Art 70 of the LFIP, DGMM is required to provide information all international protection applicants regarding the asylum process, rights and obligations during the registration interview. Art 67 and 67 of the LFIP makes special provisions concerning the reception of unaccompanied minor applicants and other “persons with special needs”.
As per Art 88-2, rights and benefits granted to international protection applicants and status holders may not exceed the level of rights and benefits afforded to citizens.
The interval of eligibility for reception conditions
International protection applicants are entitled to the above summarized “reception conditions”, from the moment they make a “request for international protection” and continue to be eligible until they exhaust the international protection procedure in the meaning of a final negative status decision that cannot be appealed onward.
As per Art 3-1-d of the LFIP, an “international protection applicant” is defined as “a person requesting international protection in Turkey, about whose application a final decision is yet to be taken”. It is instructive to break this definition down into its constitutive elements:
“…a person requesting international protection”
As per Art 65 and Art 69, the LFIP differentiates between the act of “requesting international protection” (uluslararası koruma talebinde bulunan) which can be expressed to any state authorities and the “registration of an application for international protection” (uluslararası koruma başvurusunun kaydı) by DGMM, which is the competent authority as such. Therefore it must be interpreted that persons must be considered as “international protection applicants” as defined in Art 3-1-d from the time they approach state authorities and express a “request to international protection”. The actual registration of an applicant by DGMM may come later.
That said, holding a Foreigners ID Number is an essential prerequisite for all foreign nationals in procedures and proceedings regarding access to basic rights and services. International protection applicants are not assigned a Foreigners ID Number until they are issued an “International Protection Applicant Registration Document” after the registration interview took place. In practice, in many cases the registration interview does not take place on the same day as the application instance, and applicants may be asked to wait for as long as a month or more until they are brought in for a registration interview.
Therefore, while technically it should be sufficient for a person to approach DGMM and apply for international protection to qualify for reception conditions, in practice, reception conditions cannot be accessed until after the registration interview.
“…about whose application a final decision is yet to be taken”
As per Art 3-1-ö of the LFIP, the term “final decision” refers to
- “the status decision taken by the DGMM on an international protection application if the applicant chooses not to appeal it”
- and “where the applicant appeals the status decision in court, the final court decision which can not be appealed onward in a higher court of law”
As elaborated in the section on Asylum Procedures above, the appeal mechanisms available to applicants processed in the various procedural modalities are different.
In the case of an applicant appealing a negative status decision taken under the regular procedure, the final decision by the Council of State (Danıştay) would be the final decision where by all available domestic remedies would have been exhausted;
Whereas in the case of an applicant appealing
- either a negative status decision taken under the accelerated procedure as per Art 79 of the LFIP
- or an inadmissibility decision as per Art 72 of the LFIP,
the decision by the competent administrative court would be the final decision, since as per Art 80 of the LFIP they cannot be appealed onward in a higher court of law.
Restrictions on reception conditions by type of procedure:
In the way of a global overview, with regards to : (a) information, (b) provisions for family unity, (c) and provisions for vulnerable persons, both regular procedure applicants and accelerated procedure applicants are subject to the same level of rights and benefits. With regards to: (a) documentation; (b) freedom of movement and accomodation; (c) “material reception conditions” (housing, social assistance and benefits, financial allowance); (d) healthcare; (e) vocational training; (f) schooling and education for minors; (g) and employment, there are differences in level and modalities of reception conditions committed to applicants processed in the regular procedure and those processed in the accelerated procedure.
Furthermore, applicants who are detained during the processing of their application as per Art 68 of the LFIP, and processed under the accelerated procedure – including those detained at border premises – are subject to specific reception modalities.
Applicants about whom an inadmissibility decision is taken – whether their application was being processed under the regular procedure or the accelerated procedure – will continue to be subject to the same reception regime as before, until the inadmissibility decision becomes a “final decision” as clarified above.
Means criterion and reduction of reception conditions
The LFIP introduces a means criterion for some of the reception rights and benefits and not for others. With regards to access to primary and secondary education and access to labour market, there is no means criterion. With regards to healthcare, social assistance and benefits and financial allowance, applicants are subject to different means criteria, as will be pointed out in the relevant sections below.
As per Art 90-1-ç of the LFIP, where it is determined that an applicant has “unduly benefited” from services, assistance and other benefits, they shall be obliged to refund costs in part or in entirety.
Furthermore, as per Art 90-2, for applicants who fail to comply with the obligations listed in Art 89 or about whom a negative status decision was issued, the DGMM “may” reduce rights and benefits, with the exception of education rights for minors and basic healthcare. In this regard, Art 90-2 employs the discretionary “may” wording as opposed to a “shall” wording.