Freedom of movement

Turkey

Country Report: Freedom of movement Last updated: 31/05/21

Author

Independent

The temporary protection declaration decision of the Presidency may contain the implementation of temporary protection measures to a specific region within Turkey as opposed to countrywide implementation.[1] The Presidency has the authority to order limitations on temporary protection measures in place, or the suspension of existing measures for a specific period or indefinitely, “in the event of circumstances threatening national security, public order, public security and public health”.[2]

Article 33 TPR also provides that temporary protection beneficiaries are “obliged to comply with administrative requirements, failure of which will result in administrative sanctions”. Among other requirements, they may be “obliged to reside in the assigned province, temporary accommodation centre or other location” and comply with “reporting requirements as determined by provincial Governorates”. This provision clearly authorises DGMM to limit freedom of movement of temporary protection beneficiaries to a particular province, a particular camp or another location.

However, it was not until August 2015 that Turkish Government authorities imposed a dedicated instruction to introduce controls and limitations on the movement of Syrians within Turkey. On 29 August 2015, an unpublished DGMM Circular ordered the institution of a range of measures by provincial authorities to control and prevent the movement of Syrians inside Turkey.[3] Its existence became known when security agencies particularly in the southern provinces began to act on this instruction and started intercepting Syrians seeking to travel to western regions of the country. It appears that the impetus behind this measure was to halt the growing irregular sea crossings of Syrian nationals to Greek islands along the Aegean coast. Following the EU-Turkey statement, movement restrictions have been enforced more strictly vis-à-vis temporary protection beneficiaries. Obtaining permission to travel outside the designated province has become more difficult, while routine unannounced checks in the registered addresses of beneficiaries have also increased.[4]

DGMM Circular 2017/10 of 29 November 2017 specifies that PDMM may introduce reporting obligations on temporary protection beneficiaries by means of signature duty. Failure to comply with reporting obligations for three consecutive times without valid excuse may lead to implicit withdrawal and cancellation of temporary protection status and to the issuance of a “V71” code based on “unknown location” of the person.

Beneficiaries may request a travel authorisation document in order to travel outside the province in which they are registered. The document is issued at the discretion of the competent Governorate and may not exceed 90 days in duration, subject to a possible extension for another 15 days. The beneficiary is required to notify the Governorate upon return to the province. Failure to do so after the expiry of the 90-day period leads to a “V71” code, as a result of which the person’s status is considered to be implicitly withdrawn. The “V71” code is deactivated if the person approaches the PDMM with valid justification, following an assessment of the case.

Movements of temporary protection beneficiaries seem to continue, nevertheless. DGMM statistics on apprehensions for irregular migration do not discern irregular entries from irregular exits from Turkey, yet indicate that the majority of apprehensions occur in western and southern provinces. By the end of 2020, Syrians accounted for 17,562 of the total number of 122,302 apprehensions across the country.[5]. The largest group at 50,161 were Afghans.

Temporary protection beneficiaries may also move between provinces inter alia to seek employment. This is often the case for Syrians living in Şanlıurfa or Istanbul and relocating to Ankara for work opportunities. To reduce informal employment, the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services has provided employers with the possibility to make one official declaration before a public notary that a beneficiary is starting employment, in order for that beneficiary to transfer his or her place of residence within 30 days. However, due to obstacles in obtaining a work permit, and to the fact that employers do not actively make the necessary official declarations, they are not able to change their address from the place of first registration to Ankara.

In January 2020 the Governor of Istanbul reported that the number of Syrians living in Istanbul under the temporary protection law had been reduced to 479,420 people in 2019, which is 78,200 less than 2018 and that nearly 100,000 unregistered Syrians had been removed from Istanbul.[6] The Turkish authorities reportedly arrested about 118,432 irregular migrants in Istanbul during 2019, compared to only 28,364 in 2018.’[7] In an official press release the Istanbul Governate said that 42,888 non-Syrians were transferred from Istanbul to removal centres along with 6,416 Syrians to Temporary Accommodation Centres, from 12 July to 15 November 2019.[8]

 

[1] Article 10(1)(ç) TPR.

[2] Article 15(1) TPR.

[3] DGMM Circular No 55327416-000-22771 of 29 August 2015 on “The Population Movements of Syrians within the Scope of Temporary Protection”.

[4] Council of Europe Special Representative for Migration and Refugees, Report of the fact-finding visit to Turkey, 10 August 2016, para IV.5.

[5] DGMM, Irregular migration statistics, available at: http://bit.ly/2BO8chL.

[6] See also, InfoMigrants, ‘Turkey, nearly 100,000 unregistered Syrians removed from Istanbul’, January 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3anYDUR.

[7]Middle East Monitor, ‘Official: Number of Syrians decreased in Istanbul during 2019’, 6 January 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2QQYrFS.

[8] Istanbul Governate, ‘Düzensiz Göç, Kayıtsız Suriyeliler ve Kayıt Dışı İstihdam İle İlgili Basın Açıklaması’, 15 November 2019, available in Turkish at: https://bit.ly/33LBDwB.

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