Legal assistance for review of detention

Turkey

Country Report: Legal assistance for review of detention Last updated: 31/05/21

Author

Independent

Detained international protection applicants must be given opportunity to meet with legal representatives, notary and UNHCR officials, if they wish so.[1] Persons who do not have the financial means to pay a lawyer are to be referred to the state-funded Legal Aid Scheme in connection with “judicial appeals” pertaining to any acts and decisions within the international protection procedure.[2]

However, the functioning of the Legal Aid Scheme in Turkey requires the applicant to approach the bar association to make a formal request for legal aid. It remains very difficult for a detained asylum seeker to access the legal aid mechanism by him or herself, especially since the authorities do not provide information on the right to legal assistance in a language understood by the individual.[3] In most cases, either an NGO or UNHCR will alert the bar association and seek to ensure the appointment of a legal aid lawyer to the person. Lawyers appointed by bar associations have ties and work with NGOs in individual cases. However, it is observed from the field that no NGO has direct access to Removal Centres for the purpose of providing legal assistance. This is even impossible in practice if the applicant is classified as a foreign terrorist fighter.[4]

The requirement of a notarised power of attorney poses an additional constraint (see Regular Procedure: Legal Assistance). Since detained asylum seekers are not issued an identification card before they have had the possibility to register with the PDMM, it is impossible for them to notarise a power of attorney.[5] Furthermore, issuing a power of attorney and interpretation entail financial costs which vary depending on the distance of the Removal Centre and the language of the individual. Fees were approximately 180 TL in Kayseri but reach 400 TL to 700 TL in Antalya, 500 TL to 800 TL for Removal Centres in Istanbul, and 1,500 TL for airports in 2019.[6]Some notaries did not accept requests from refugees who had a travel permit but who were registered in other cities.[7]

Nevertheless, the Administrative Court of Ankara has held that access to legal counselling is a basic human right and should be granted to refugees without the requirement of a power of attorney.[8] Moreover, when a lawyer is appointed by a bar association to represent a person under the Legal Aid Scheme, the official appointment letter can serve as a temporary substitute in place of a notarised power of attorney. In practice, the courts accept representation of detained applicants under a legal aid appointment document without a power of attorney.[9]

Obstacles for lawyers in accessing removal centres throughout 2020, and reluctance from lawyers to meet their clients out of fear of COVID-19 contamination, are also described in Access to detention facilities.

 

 

 

 

[1]        Article 68(8) LFIP.

[2]        Article 81(2) LFIP.

[3]        Information provided by a lawyer of the Antakya Bar Association, February 2018; a lawyer of the Adana Bar Association, February 2018; a lawyer of the Mersin Bar Association, February 2018.

[4]        Information provided by a lawyer of the Ankara Bar Association, January 2018; a lawyer of the Adana Bar Association, February 2018; a lawyer of the Gaziantep Bar Association, March 2018.

[5]        Izmir Bar Association, İzmir Geri Gönderme Merkezlerinde Adalete Erişim Hakkı Çerçevesinde Yaşanan Sorunlar Raporu, July 2017, 18-19. See also Refugee Rights Turkey, Barriers to the right to an effective legal remedy: The problem faced by refugees in Turkey in granting power of attorney, February 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/1PLX9SH.

[6]        Information provided by a lawyer of the Kayseri Bar Association, February 2019; a lawyer of the Antalya Bar Association, March 2019; International Refugee Rights Association, February 2019.

[7]        Information provided by a stakeholder, March 2020.

[8]        Evrensel, ‘Yargı: Mülteciler vekaletnamesiz avukat hizmeti alabilir’, 20 January 2018, available in Turkish at: http://bit.ly/2CG9RCl.

[9]        Information provided by a lawyer from the Izmir Bar Association, February 2019. See also District Court of Ankara, 10th Chamber, Decision 2017/1267, 20 December 2017.

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