According to the law, the “persons with special needs” category includes “unaccompanied minors, handicapped persons, elderly, pregnant women, single parents with minor children, victims of torture, rape and other forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence.”
On the other hand, neither the LFIP nor the RFIP include LGBTI persons in the list of categories of “persons with special needs”. Difficulties have been reported in practice with regard to the way in which applicants are interviewed about issues pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity, ranging from inappropriate terminology or offensive questions to verbal abuse during registration interviews. In one LGBTI case Kastamonu PDMM asked for a medical report to prove that the applicant was a LGBTI person. However, overall there was a positive approach towards vulnerable groups
Screening of vulnerability
RFIP states that it “shall be primarily determined” whether the applicant is a person with special needs. The PDMM are required to make an assessment during registration whether the applicant belongs in one of the categories of “persons with special needs”, and to make a note in the applicant’s registration form if he or she has been identified as such. An applicant may also be identified as a “person with special needs” later on in the procedure.
According to the law, DGMM may cooperate with relevant public institutions, international organisations and NGOs for the treatment of persons subjected to torture or serious violence.
No official mechanism for the identification of vulnerabilities in the asylum procedure has been established to date. Under the previous Registration system, the joint registration interview conducted by UNHCR / SGDD-ASAM enabled the detection of specific needs of the applicant, which were then taken into consideration inter alia in the assignment of a “satellite city” in close coordination with the DGMM Headquarters (see Freedom of Movement). Following the transition to exclusive registration by DGMM, it is not clear how the PDMM assess special needs in practice. Nevertheless, UNHCR still refers vulnerable cases to the PDMM to prioritise registration. In 2019 assessments of applicants’ vulnerabilities and their registration were very slow.
Age assessment of unaccompanied children
While the LFIP does not contain any provisions on age assessment, the RFIP provides guidance regarding the role of age assessment in the identification of unaccompanied children applicants. The Regulation states that where the applicant claims to be of minor age, but does not possess any identity documents indicating his or her age, the governorates shall conduct a “comprehensive age determination” consisting of a physical and psychological assessment. The applicant shall be notified as to the reason of this referral and the age assessment proceedings that will be undertaken.
If the age assessment exercise indicates without a doubt that the applicant is 18 years of age or older, he or she shall be treated as an adult. If the age assessment fails to establish conclusively whether the applicant is above or below 18 years of age, the applicant’s reported age shall be accepted to be true.
While neither the LFIP nor the RFIP make any provisions regarding the methods to be used in age assessment examinations on international protection applicants, according to the guidelines of the State Agency for Forensic Medicine, for the purpose of age assessment examinations, physical examination and radiography data of the person (including of elbows, wrists, hands, shoulders, pelvis and teeth) are listed as primary sources of evaluation. No reference is made to any psycho-social assessment of the person. Also, according to the (then) Ministry of Family and Social Policies’ 2015 Directive on unaccompanied children, the PDMM issue a medical report on the physical condition of the children before placing them in Ministry premises.
In practice, bone tests are applied to assess the age of unaccompanied children referred to the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services to be taken into care. The accuracy of tests on the jawbone can range between +2/-2 years older or younger. If a test result indicates a child is aged 16 give or take two years, then the authorities still tend to interpret the assessment at the upper threshold.
To stop this practice, previous legal actions from the Ankara Bar Association and SGDD-ASAM have obtained protection orders for children in order to secure their placement in public institutions for children. If the bone test determines the child to be younger than 17, the Ministry can also conduct a psychosocial assessment.
 Article 3(1)(l) LFIP.
 Information provided by a stakeholder, February 2020.
Article 113(1) RFIP.
Article 113(2) RFIP.
Article 113(3) RFIP.
Information provided by a stakeholder, February 2019.
Information provided by a stakeholder, February 2020.
Article 123(2)(b) RFIP.
 Article 123(2)(c) RFIP.
 Article 6 Ministry of Family and Social Policies Directive No 152065 on Unaccompanied Children.
Information provided by a lawyer from the Ankara Bar Association, March 2019.
Information provided by a stakeholder, March 2020.
 See e.g. 3rd Children’s Court of Ankara, Decision 2017/712, 29 December 2017 based on Article 9 Law No 4395 on Child Protection.