Registration of the asylum application

Turkey

Country Report: Registration of the asylum application Last updated: 30/11/20

Author

Independent

According to LFIP, the PDMM is the responsible authority for receiving and registering applications for international protection.[1]

 

Applications on the territory

 

Applications for international protection are made to the “Governorates” “in person”, indicating that applicants are expected to physically approach the PDMM and personally present their request.[2] Applications for international protection may not be made by a lawyer or legal representative. However, a person can also apply on behalf of accompanying family members, defined to cover the spouse, minor children and dependent adult children as per Article 3(1)(a) LFIP.[3] Where a person wishes to file an application on behalf of adult family members, the latter’s written approval needs to be taken.

According to the law, for applicants who are physically unable to approach the PDMM premises for the purpose of making an international protection request, officials from the PDMM may be directed to the applicant’s location in order to process the application.[4] In the same way, registration interviews with unaccompanied minors and other persons who are unable to report to the designated registration premises in the province may be carried out in the locations where they are.[5] There is no indication that these provisions have been applied in practice so far.

Article 65 LFIP does not impose any time limits on persons for making an application as such, whether on the territory, in detention or at the border. However, Article 65(4) appears to impose on applicants the responsibility of approaching competent authorities “within a reasonable time” as a precondition for being spared from punishment for illegal entry or stay. The assessment of whether an application has been made “within a reasonable time” is to be made on an individual basis.[6]

The LFIP states that applications for international protection shall be registered by the PDMM.[7] Applicants can request and shall be provided interpretation services for the purpose of the registration interview and later the personal interview.[8]

Access to the international protection procedure changed substantially in 2018. Whereas a “joint registration” arrangement was previously in place between PDMM and UNHCR, whereby UNHCR and its implementing partner SGDD-ASAM registered applications in Ankara and then directed applicants to “satellite cities” to lodge their applications with the PDMM,[9] UNHCR announced on 10 September 2018 the termination of its registration activities in Turkey.[10] UNHCR still has a role to promote access to and the provision of protection.

Applications for international protection are now to be registered solely by the PDMM in any of the 81 provinces. In practice, however, if the PDMM approached by an asylum seeker cannot receive his or her application, it directs the person to a “satellite city” with a view to registering the application there.[11] Applicants are expected to register before the PDMM of the assigned “satellite city” within 15 days. Failure to appear within 15 days leads to the application being considered as withdrawn (“cancelled”). DGMM does not provide assistance with transportation costs but can refer applicants to NGOs such as SGDD-ASAM for assistance.

Article 69 LFIP does not lay down any time limits for the completion of registration by the PDMM, although its Implementing Regulation, the Regulation on Foreigners and International Protection (RFIP), requires applications to be recorded “within the shortest time on the institutional software system” of DGMM.[12] The RFIP provides that application authorities shall notify the applicant a date for his or her registration interview during the application if possible, otherwise at a later stage.[13]

In practice, the takeover of the process by DGMM in September 2018 resulted in severe obstacles to access to the asylum procedure. The transfer of the registration process from UNHCR to DGMM took place very rapidly, despite the fact that the PDMM are still in the process of building up the necessary capacity to receive large volumes of asylum applications. UNHCR still directs its support in the areas where challenges are observed including physical and staffing capacity challenges of PDMM in registering new applicants.[14]

According to a report of the Court of Auditors published in September 2019, DGGM did not perform in conformity with the law in publishing its strategy, activity plan and performance report in 2018.[15] Issues remained in 2019 and arbitrariness increased after the takeover of registration of non-Syrians.[16] It is difficult to assess the overall system since there is no standardised application.[17] However, the main public policy seemed to be to leave people unregistered and thus push them to leave Turkey, especially Afghans, except in vulnerable cases.[18] Afghans are thus kept as ‘unregistered irregular migrants’ in the migration system or they are treated under the accelerated procedure when their application for international protection is received. [19]

In 2019 the number of cities accepting applications for international protection decreased.[20] Izmir PDDM did not accept international protection applications or offer travel permits to non-Syrians. Applicants have not been referred to a city or given a date for the interview. The cities of Karabuk, Kastamonu, Kirikkale, Samsun, Sakarya and Yalova seemed to have a policy to motivate refugees to apply for temporary residency rather than applying for an international protection in order to decrease the numbers of refugees on paper. Refugees’ access to health care and social aid was thus prevented except education.[21]

In Van, especially during the summer 2019, Afghans slept in parks and on the streets but the public authorities did not register them. People were walking to other cities to be registered. The registration procedure was not accelerated for vulnerable groups unless there was media attention or national crisis. Numbers are always high especially in the summer time but it was more visible during 2019. Smugglers were leaving 200-300 irregular migrants at a time in the city centre.[22]

The registration interview serves to compile information and any documents from the applicant to identify identity, flight reasons, experiences after departure from country of origin, travel route, mode of arrival in Turkey, and any previous applications for international protection in another country.[23] The PDMM may carry out a body search and checks on the personal belongings of applicants in order to confirm that all documents have been presented.[24] Where an applicant is unable to present documents to establish his or her identity, the registration authorities shall rely on an analysis of personal data and information gathered from other research. Where such identification measures fail to provide the relevant information, the applicant’s own statements shall be accepted to be true.[25]

Where there are concerns that an applicant may have a medical condition threatening public health, he or she may be referred to a medical check.[26] Information on any special needs shall also be recorded.[27] Under the previous “joint registration” system, SGDD-ASAM carried out Identification of potential special needs upon registration. Since the termination of UNHCR registration activities in 2018, it is unclear how this is handled by the PDMM. It appears, nevertheless, that registration is exceptionally allowed for asylum seekers facing emergencies such as pregnancy or severe illness, who are registered in order to make sure that they get medical assistance.[28]

At the time of applying, the asylum seeker must provide a hand-written, signed statement from the applicant containing information about the international protection application in a language in which he or she is able to express themselves. The statement shall contain specific elements including the reasons for entering Turkey, as well as any special needs of the applicant.[29] Illiterate applicants are exempt from this requirement. Furthermore, the PDMM shall also obtain any supporting documents that the applicant may have with him or her and fill in a standard International Protection Application Notification Form, which will be delivered to the DGMM Headquarters within 24 hours.

At the end of the registration interview, all the information recorded on the screen of the electronic system must be precisely read back to the applicant who will have the opportunity to make corrections.[30] A printed version of the registration form filled in electronically is also handed to the applicant.[31]

The law states that the applicant will receive an International Protection Applicant Identification Card upon completion of registration.[32] The renewal and extension of International Protection Applicant Identification Card is identified by the Ministry.[33]  As of 24 December 2019, the LFIP provides that this document is also issued to applicants falling under the Accelerated Procedure or the inadmissibility provisions.[34]

Following this reform, the PDMM no longer issue a Registration Document when directing the asylum seeker to the assigned “satellite city” with a view to registering the international protection application. The only documentation the applicant receives is the International Protection Applicant Identification Card that is valid for six months after having registered the application with the PDMM at the appointed province.[35] This means that asylum seekers are required to travel to the assigned province without being provided documentation to attest their intention to seek international protection. In practice, people are often apprehended during police controls throughout the country and are thus at risk of being transferred to a Removal Centre (see Detention of Asylum Seekers).

The increasing pressure on PDMM following the transfer of responsibility for registration of international protection applicants in September 2018 had an effect on applicants who had already registered, as it created substantial delays in the renewal of International Protection Applicant Identification Cards. Earlier in 2019 in Denizli, for example, asylum seekers slept rough outside the PDMM while waiting to be let in to renew their cards. The police reportedly fired tear gas to disband the crowd of people camping outside the PDMM in early March 2019.[36] As of 24 December 2019, however, the obligation to renew Identification Cards every six months was abolished.[37]

 

Applications from detention and at the border

 

Where an application for international protection is presented to law enforcement agencies on the territory or at border gates, [38] the PDMM shall be notified “at once” and shall process the application.[39] Applications for international protection indicated by persons in detention shall also be notified to the PDMM “at once”.[40] In addition to Removal Centres for pre-removal detention on territory, there is one facility in the transit zone of Istanbul Atatürk Airport (closed in April 2019)[41] and one in Ankara Esenboğa Airport, which serve to detain persons intercepted in transit or during an attempt to enter Turkey (see Place of Detention).

Persons whose international protection application is received whilst in detention are released from the Removal Centre or police station and are issued an Administrative Surveillance Decision Form (İdari Gözetim Kararı Sonlandırma Tebliğ Formu), also known as “T6”, requesting them to regularly report to a designated PDMM. This may or may not be the PDMM of their province of residence (see Alternatives to Detention).[42] The “T6” forms became more common in 2018 and served as referral letters to allow people to approach PDMM for registration. They were particularly issued vis-à-vis Afghan asylum seekers arriving in border provinces such as Erzurum, Van, Hakkâri, Mardin.[43] In 2019 in Yalova and Karabuk, there was a trend in forcing non-Syrians to get a T6 form to be appointed to a specific city.[44] In Istanbul removal centres now grant a travel permit with the T6 form so there is no risk of detention or deportation whilst travelling to the referral city.[45]

Despite the legal safeguards provided by the LFIP to secure access to the asylum procedure, people in Removal Centres continue to encounter severe difficulties in having their applications for international protection registered by the PDMM.[46] In Van access to procedures was more difficult and more complex in 2019 for non-Syrians, especially for those who were detained in the removal centre. One Iranian asylum seeker in the removal centre received an interview date for 1.5 years later.[47]

Access to the procedure from detention also concerns persons readmitted by Turkey. Whereas Article 64 RFIP entrusts the Ministry of Interior with the establishment of a separate framework of procedures for persons readmitted by Turkey pursuant to readmission agreements, there has not been any such instrument regulating the access of readmitted persons to the international protection procedure to date.

In the context of the implementation of the EU-Turkey statement between 4 April 2016 and 31 January 2020, Turkey readmitted a total of 2,054 persons from Greece, of whom 738 originated from Pakistan, 373 from Syria, 204 from Algeria, 140 from Afghanistan, 127 from Iraq and 104 from Bangladesh.[48] DGMM has established a specific code, “V89” entitled “Greece – return”, but stakeholders have not referred to this being used in practice.

Reports on the post-return human rights situation of Syrians document serious human rights violations such as arbitrary detention and deportation without access to legal aid and international protection (see also Legal Assistance for Review of Detention).[49]

 


[1] Turkey is administratively divided into 81 provinces. The provincial governorate is the highest administrative authority in each province. Therefore, provincial directorates of all government agencies report to the Office of the Governor. The agency responsible for registering all applications for international protection is the PDMM, which technically serves under the authority of the Provincial Governorate.

[2] Article 65(1) LFIP.

[3] Article 65(3) LFIP.

[4] Article 65(1) RFIP.

[5] Article 65(2) RFIP.

[6] Article 65(1) RFIP.

[7] Article 69(1) LFIP.

[8] Article 70(2) LFIP.

[9] For more details, see AIDA, Country Report Turkey, 2017 Update, March 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2I1S9fS, 27-28.

[10] UNHCR, ‘UNHCR will end registration process in Turkey on 10 September 2018’, available at: https://bit.ly/2HRy2FO.

[11] Information provided by a stakeholder, February 2019.

[12] Article 70(4) RFIP.

[13]Article 66(2) RFIP.

[14] Information provided by UNHCR, February 2019.

[15] Court of Auditors, 2018 report on DGMM, September 2019, available in Turkish at: https://bit.ly/2yhfjiA.    

[16] Information provided by a stakeholder, February 2020.

[17] Information provided by a lawyer from the Van Bar Association, March 2020.

[18]Information provided by a stakeholder and a lawyer from the Van Bar Association, March 2020.

[19] Information provided by a stakeholder, February 2020.

[20] Information from a lawyer from the Izmir Bar Association.

[21] Information provided by a stakeholder, February 2020. 

[22] Information provided by a lawyer from the Van Bar Association, March 2020.

[23] Article 69(2)-(4) LFIP.

[24] Article 69(2) LFIP; Article 69(4) RFIP.

[25] Article 69(3) LFIP; Article 69(3) RFIP.

[26] Article 69(6) LFIP.

[27] Article 70(5) RFIP.

[28] Information provided by an NGO, February 2019.

[29] Article 65(5) RFIP.

[30] Article 70(6) RFIP.

[31] Article 70(7) RFIP.

[32] Article 76(1) LFIP, as amended by Article 35 Law No 7148 of 18 October 2018.

[33] Article 76(1) LFIP, as amended by Article 81 Law No 7196 of 24 December 2019.

[34] Article 76(2) LFIP.

[35] Information provided by NGOs, February 2019.

[36] Ahval, ‘Turkish police use tear gas on migrants awaiting new IDs’, 5 March 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2TPrGwj.

[37] Article 76(1) LFIP, as amended by Article 81 Law No 7196 of 24 December 2019.

[38] In Turkey, while National Police exercises law enforcement duties in residential areas and at border gates, the gendarmerie exercises police duties outside the residential areas.

[39] Article 65(2) LFIP.

[40] Article 65(5) LFIP.

[41] Since April 2019, all commercial passenger flights were transferred from Istanbul Atatürk Airport to Istanbul Airport.

[42] Information provided by a stakeholder, February 2019.

[43] Information provided by a stakeholder, March 2019.

[44] Information provided by a stakeholder, February 2020.

[45] Information provided by a stakeholder in Istanbul, March 2020.

[46] Information provided by a stakeholder, February 2019; a lawyer of the Istanbul Bar Association, February 2019; a lawyer of the Antakya Bar Association, March 2019.

[47] Information provided by a lawyer from the Van Bar Association, March 2020.

[48] UNHCR, Returns from Greece to Turkey, 31 January 2020, available at:  http://bit.ly/38XgArI.

[49] Koc University, An overview of the EU-Turkey Deal, April 2019: http://bit.ly/33oZLol.

 

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of main changes since the previous report update
  • Introduction to the asylum context in Turkey
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • Temporary Protection Regime
  • Content of Temporary Protection