Place of detention


Country Report: Place of detention Last updated: 30/11/20



The LFIP clearly differentiates between administrative detention for the purpose of removal and detention in the international protection procedure, which are governed by Articles 57 and 68 respectively. In practice, however, applicants for international protection are detained in Removal Centres.


Removal Centres


As of December 2019, there were 28 active removal centres in Turkey with a total detention capacity of 20,000 places. Izmir (Harmandalı), Kırklareli, Gaziantep, Erzurum, Kayseri and Van (Kurubaş) were initially established as Reception and Accommodation Centres for applicants for international protection under EU funding, prior to being re-purposed as Removal Centres (see Types of Accommodation). More Removal Centres are being planned and upon completion of these facilities the overall pre-removal detention capacity in Turkey will reach 21,466 places. Adana removal centre is about to close but a new one will be open in Urfa.[1] A new removal centre in Ankara has just been activated.[2]

The locations and capacities of Removal Centres are listed as follows:

Capacity of pre-removal detention centres in Turkey

Pre-removal detention centre


Istanbul (Binkılıç)


Istanbul (Tuzla)


Izmir (Harmandalı)






Kırklareli (Pehlivanköy)







Erzurum 1

Van (Tuşba)

Erzurum 2

Van (Kurubaş)

Gaziantep (Oğuzeli)

Iğdir (temporary)


Osmaniye (Düziçi) (temporary)

Istanbul (Silivri)

Malatya (temporary)

Total capacity 2019


Source: DGMM, Removal centres:


The facilities located in Iğdir and Osmaniye (Düziçi) and Malatya are listed as temporary Removal Centres, with Osmaniye formerly operating as a temporary accommodation centre.

Despite the increase in detention capacity, overcrowding was reported in centres such as Erzurum in 2018 and Izmir (Harmandalı) in the course of 2019.[3]

Akyurt Removal Centre is the new removal centre established in Ankara. There have been complaints about the lack of physical infrastructure, unfinished construction, low quality meals, heating problems.[4] In Antakya removal centre there were some complaints about hygiene due to overcrowding and the quality of meals but there were no ill treatment or torture claim in 2019.

According to lawyers, it seems that some Removal Centres accommodate different categories of persons. For example, in Hatay and Gaziantep Syrians who have not signed a voluntary return form are mainly detained. Previously there was one removal centre in Van but a reception centre was built in the Kurubas area with a capacity of 750 people and it was turned into a removal centre. The latter was for Iranians and the former was for all other groups but the latter was closed down and now it is a sort of administrative branch of the removal centre where no one is held. The removal centre in Kurubas is quite busy because migrants to be deported are transferred to this removal centre from other cities including migrants apprehended in Bitlis, Hakkari, Mus and Sirnak.[5]


Airport holding facilities and police stations


There is a border facility for persons refused entry into Turkey (“inadmissible passengers”) at international airports. These include Istanbul Airport, Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport, Ankara Esenboğa Airport and Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport.

The authorities generally do not consider holding in transit zones as a deprivation of liberty, although a Council of Europe report of 2016 refers to them acknowledging that persons held in such facilities are deprived of their liberty.[6]

Police stations can be used for short-term detention of up to 48 hours prior to a Removal Centre.[7] These are used in practice in provinces such as Istanbul and Mersin.


Unofficial detention facilities


Stakeholders have witnessed a number of practices consisting of de facto detention of people in facilities e.g. sport halls in different provinces, without a detention order, prior to being transferred to a Removal Centre or to signing voluntary return documents. It is not clear whether these centres are managed by DGMM or the Directorate General for Security Affairs.

Şanlıurfa: Persons apprehended are detained in a sports hall for periods reaching one week before being transferred to the nearest Removal Centre in Gaziantep.[8]

Istanbul: A detention facility is used in Pendik to detain asylum seekers, likely due to overcrowding in police stations. Detention periods in this facility can reach one month.[9]

Mersin: The basement of the Yumuktepe police station in Demirtaş district has been unofficially used for detention of persons pending transfer to the Removal Centre. In some cases detention reaches one or two months, and deportation and international protection procedures are being conducted in the facility.[10]

Hatay: A former facility of the Special Forces Unit (Özel Harekat Şubesi) of the Directorate of Police, located in 500 Konutlar district close to the Removal Centre, is used for detention of persons caught in an irregular situation and for persons under a criminal investigation who are released by the Public Prosecutor. Persons detained there have reportedly been told to sign voluntary return documents, failing which they will be transferred to the Removal Centre.[11] There have been reports of unlawful practice such as making people sign voluntary return forms by force or fraudulently, preventing lawyers from examining personal files of refugees or meeting them face to face. There are two floors and rooms for detention in the basement. Women and men are held in the same place in different cells. There seem to be pushes to apprehend migrants. Detained people do not get food directly in but have to pay for it from somewhere outside the police station. Lawyer-client meetings have been followed by a person who does not identify themselves. [12] There is no third-party monitoring returns from here. UNHCR only monitors official voluntary returns which are managed by the PDMM.[13]

In Van during the summer time, due to high numbers, irregular migrants are also held in police stations or sport centres in Semdinli or the gendarmerie.[14]


[1]Information provided by a stakeholder in Gaziantep, February 2020.

[2]Information provided by a lawyer from the Ankara Bar Association, March 2020.

[3]Afghanistan Analysts Network, ‘Mass Deportations of Afghans from Turkey: Thousands of migrants sent back in a deportation drive’, 21 June 2018, available at:; Information provided by a lawyer of the Izmir Bar Association, February 2020.

[4 Information provided by a stakeholder in February 2020.

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

[6]Council of Europe Special Representative for Migration and Refugees, Report of the fact-finding visit to Turkey, 10 August 2016, para IX.1(a).

[7] Article 57(2) LFIP.

[8]Information provided by the Şanlıurfa Refugee Law Clinic, February 2019.

[9]Information provided by the International Refugee Rights Association, February 2019; a lawyer of the Istanbul Bar Association, February 2019.

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

[11]Information provided by a lawyer of the Antakya Bar Association, February 2019.

[12] Information provided by a lawyer from the Antakya Bar Association, March 2020.

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

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


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