Place of detention

Turkey

Country Report: Place of detention Last updated: 31/05/21

Author

Independent

Place of Detention

 

Removal Centres

As of March 2021, there were 26 active removal centres in Turkey with a total detention capacity of 16,008 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). Adana removal centre was supposed to close with a new one opening in Urfa.[1] Akyurt removal centre opened in Ankara in 2019 and became operational in 2020.[2] The facilities located in Iğdir and Malatya are listed as temporary Removal Centres. The Osmaniye Düziçi removal centre was closed but the camp is still open. People detained in this removal centre were transferred to Gaziantep removal centre. In 2020 one of the removal centres listed in Van was also removed from the list. The total detention capacity in removal centres thus decreased from 20,000 in 2019 to 16,108 places as of March 2021.

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

Capacity of pre-removal detention centres in Turkey
Pre-removal detention centre
Adana Istanbul (Binkılıç)
Ağri Istanbul (Tuzla)
Ankara Izmir (Harmandalı)
Antalya Kayseri
Aydın Kirikkale
Bursa Kırklareli (Pehlivanköy)
Çanakkale Kocaeli
Çankırı Malatya
Edirne Muğla
Erzurum 1 Van
Erzurum 2  
Gaziantep (Oğuzeli) Iğdir (temporary)
Hatay  
Istanbul (Silivri) Malatya (temporary)
Total capacity as of March 2021 16,108

Source: DGMM, Removal centres, https://bit.ly/2PThCl9.

The EU works in close collaboration with DGMM on detention as part of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance[3]. From March 2021 onwards, a new project will start with the support of the EU to enhance removal centre’s capacity building (e.g. better process management in handling of complaints or disciplinary investigations, coordination with other ministries), and promote alternatives to administrative detention as well as access to basic services (i.e. implementation of rights-based healthcare standards in line with the Mandela standards, access to legal aid, access to protection).[4]

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] People issued a security restriction code can be held separately from others under worse conditions. Their access to NGOs and/or legal assistance is limited and lawyers reported facing difficulties in meeting these clients.[6]

In Istanbul Selimpaşa Removal Centre is for women, Binkılıç for men. These removal centres mostly accommodate ex-convicts or refugees involved in a criminal case. A removal centre was established in Tuzla for men. The major problem for lawyers is to determine the removal centre where the client is being held. PDMM do not share information on where the person is being held. Lawyers must proactively search for their clients in each removal centers, which may take to a couple of days.[7]

In Istanbul refugees are generally not informed about their rights in removal centres except in Selimpaşa – the removal centre where women are kept, and where the administrators are trying to implement better practices. The administrators have agreed to put some posters on the walls of Selimpaşa Removal Centre in different languages explaining the international/temporary protection procedures and ways to access them alongside the phone numbers of several NGOs.[8] Many refugees and people living in Istanbul have been transferred from Istanbul to other removal centres in different cities. This situation can violate their right to access legal representation (as lawyers do not always know their whereabouts).[9]

 

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 (see Access at the 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.[10]

Police stations can be used for short-term detention of up to 48 hours prior to a Removal Centre.[11] 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.[12]

Istanbul: In Istanbul, detention in Pendik police station sometimes lasts longer than 48 hours before a person is transferred to the removal centres. There are other ‘holding places’ in a few other parts of the city. These areas are legally police stations, but they are implicitly used as removal centres. Detention time exceeds 48 hours most of the time,[13] including at Beyoğlu, Beşiktaş, and Kağıthane police stations where most refugees were held. Foreigners involved in a legal case were kept at the police station until called by the PDMM. They were kept for 2-3 days, sometimes even 7 days. Detention periods were extended to 10-15 days during the pandemic period in 2020. Since quarantine places were full, people were kept at police stations. There were refugees held at police stations for 14 days, exceeding the maximum period set in law. Some refugees were held in police stations because of the lack of a vehicle to transport them to a removal centre.[14]

 

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.[15] This practice was unchanged in 2020.

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, was still used for detention of persons caught in an irregular situation and for persons under a criminal investigation who are released by the Public Prosecutor in 2020. Persons detained there have reportedly been told to sign voluntary return documents, failing which they will be transferred to the Removal Centre.[16] 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. [17] There is no third-party monitoring returns from here. UNCHR only monitors official voluntary returns which are managed by the PDMM.[18]

In Van, irregular migrants are held in three police stations: Caldiran, Balaban and Beblesin police stations.

 

 

 

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

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

[3]        See for example, COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING DECISION of 16.10.2020 on adopting the Annual Action Programme for Turkey for the year 2020 under the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA II), 21 October 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3ocDhBv.

[4]        Information from a stakeholder, March 2012.

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

[6]        Information provided by a stakeholder, March 2021.

[7]        Information provided by a stakeholder, March 2021.

[8]        Information provided by a stakeholder, March 2021.

[9]        Information provided by a stakeholder, March 2021.

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

[11]       Article 57(2) LFIP.

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

[13]       Information provided by a stakeholder, March 2021. According to the experience from another stakeholder, clients in Pendik were not always held in detention for longer than 48 hours.

[14]       Information provided by a stakeholder, March 2021.

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

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

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

[18]       Information provided by a stakeholder, February 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