Removal and refoulement


Country Report: Removal and refoulement Last updated: 14/07/23



The derogation from the non-refoulement principle

Applicants for international protection generally have the right to remain on the territory of Türkiye throughout the procedure.[1] However, an exception to this rule was introduced by way of emergency decree in October 2016, providing that a deportation decision “may be taken at any time during the international protection proceedings” against an applicant for reasons of: (i) leadership, membership or support of a terrorist organisation or a benefit-oriented criminal group; (ii) threat to public order or public health; or (iii) relation to terrorist organisations defined by international institutions and organisations.[2] Law No 7070 on 1 February 2018 consolidated the reform. It was reported that since 2011, 9,000 Foreign Terrorist Fighters from 102 different nationalities have been deported.[3]

For foreigners who have been convicted of an offence, the Public Prosecutor shall request the opinion of the Ministry of Interior as to whether they should be removed from the country.[4]

The law effectively enables the deportation of asylum seekers, beneficiaries of international protection and beneficiaries of temporary protection (see Temporary Protection: Protection from Refoulement) on the aforementioned grounds which remain largely vague and could be interpreted widely. The reform introduced by the Decree has been criticised for facilitating and exacerbating risks of arbitrary deportations jeopardising the life and safety of refugees.[5]

The country of deportation is not specified in deportation orders, which makes it questionable as to how assessment of risk of refoulement is carries out as this assessment inherently requires assessment of conditions in the country of deportation. This administrative deficiency is addressed in different ways by the courts. The general tendency is to assume that the country of removal is the country of origin and conduct assessment of risk of refoulement based on this assumption. However, there are others, which as a good practice problematize the non-specification of country of removal. There are also others, which as a bad practice accept non-specification of country of removal as an excuse not to conduct risk assessment with the assumption that the removal will be made in compliance with the principle of non-refoulement. Administrative practice of non-specification of country of removal and its judicial oversight renders an effective risk assessment difficult.[6]

In İzmir, in an administrative case pending by late 2020 a new practice was observed. PDMM started using a new form for the evaluation of a safe deportation country where Syrians could be deported. On this form, four countries are determined as safe countries for Syrians: Iran, Sudan, Haiti, and Micronesia. Refugees signed the form, but since April 2021, there was no information of Syrians being deported to Iran or another country based on this document.[7] As of the end of 2021 this form was still valid, but the country names had been changed; for example, Russia was included.[8] According to stakeholders, no individual was deported to one of these countries. However, this practise results in the cancellation of international protection and prevents individuals from re-applying for international protection.[9] In the case of an Afghan from the Hazara region, the 1st Administrative Court of Izmir discussed whether the deportation decision was suitable also for his family and if the country of deportation was to be considered safe for him.[10]

In 2022, Bangladeshi irregular migrants “swept’ out of big cities such as Istanbul and Izmir were sent to the removal centre in Agri. The majority of those detained in removal centre were economic migrants and kept detained even if they won their deportation cases. Since Bangladesh did not re-admit its citizens, Türkiye could neither deport nor release them from administrative detention. A number of stakeholders informed that some of them were deported to Iran, since there was no risk of persecution for this group in Iran. In one case involving a Bangladeshi applicant, Kayseri 1st Administrative Court accepted an appeal against a deportation order on the grounds that the PDMM had not assessed and determined a safe country for the applicant in the deportation decision.[11]

Deportation on public order, public security and public health grounds is linked to the security restriction codes issued by PMM, a practice still not governed by clear, publicly available criteria.[12] The implementation and regulation of these codes is not set out in the law but likely in internal circulars and instructions within the administration.

Security-related codes such as “G-89” for foreign terrorist fighters and “G-87” for general security seem to still be applied, though mainly in specific parts of the country, such as Gaziantep[13] and İstanbul.[14] The assessment of risks, conducted by the Risk Analysis Department as far as airports are concerned,[15] is made with reference to broad criteria and in practice may be based on the appearance or point of entry of the individual e.g. Turkish-Syrian border.[16] Intelligence from other countries often leads to the issuance of a security restriction code, even though the content and quality of intelligence vary depending on the issuing country.[17]

In 2022, there were two cases from Gaziantep about issuance of G-87 codes without justification. In one case in 2017, PMM issued a G-87 code, deportation and detention orders to a Syrian living in Türkiye with a residence permit. He filed an appeal against the deportation order, his administrative detention, the issuance of the code, and the revocation of his residence permit. He won the case in the first instance regarding the code, but he lost it in front of the regional administrative court. In 2018, his deportation was halted. He reapplied for and received his residence permit in 2018. In January, the code case was finalised in detriment of the applicant and the code, deportation, and permit cancellation orders were issued again by PMM. The applicant won all his cases in 2022. First, the administrative court accepted the case because PMM submitted no specific evidence with regards to the issuance of G-87 code. Then, he won his case about the residence permit, but PMM instead granted him a humanitarian visa. In another case, a G-82 code was issued to an employee of an INGO due to his employer’s alleged ties to terrorist organisations. The Syrian applicant was placed in administrative detention for a year, and her deportation was suspended in 2021 based on a Constitutional Court ruling. In 2022, however, the administrative court argued that given that the court conducted the necessary investigations, the deportation order was not arbitrary. She reapplied to stop her deportation. She applied for temporary protection beginning in 2022. Approximately 15 to 20 Syrians working for the same organisation are reportedly in the same situation in Gaziantep.[18]

Stakeholders in Izmir observed that the majority of G codes are issued to Syrians and Iraqis, and that this application is prevalent among Iraqis living in Samsun, Kutahya, Ordu, Afyon, and Manisa. Personal issues among Iraqis or Syrians who relayed false information to Turkish intelligence services may be an explanation of this practice.[19] The 1st Administrative Court of Izmir is regarded as one of the best courts for the impartial evaluation of code cases, and stakeholders are more likely to receive favourable rulings from it than from other courts.[20]

Security codes can be only appealed before the 1st Administrative Court of Ankara, since they are issued by PMM Headquarters. In appeals against the issuance of restriction codes, confidential documents submitted by PMM are not available to the individual or their lawyer; they can only be accessed in person at the registry of the Administrative Court of Ankara.[21] The court generally leaves a wide margin of discretion to PMM with regard to the issuance of codes. It has not taken a uniform approach to the scrutiny of codes, with some rulings annulling the issuance of codes for want of evidence and others upholding them.[22] In Gaziantep, two rulings annulling the issuance of codes were recorded in 2022.[23]

In many cases,[24] 1st Administrative Court of Ankara rulings annulling the issuance of a security restriction code are later overturned by higher instance courts.[25] One stakeholder, however, mentioned that in 2022, the Administrative Court of Ankara issued more negative decisions in support of a more “security”-oriented approach, while the higher court overturned more of these negative decisions. There is no explanation for the change in approaches of these two courts.[26] It was reported that approximately one thousand cases were pending before the court.[27]

Amendments to the LFIP in 2019 allow for the travel costs for removal to be borne by the deportee. If the individual does not have sufficient money, the expense shall be borne by PMM yet in the same article it states “money belonging to the foreigner, apart from the amount that is required to meet the basic needs identified by the Directorate General, will be recorded as income to the Treasury”.[28] There is no information yet about how this has been applied in practice.

A new regulation on Penal Execution Institutions and Execution of Penalties and Security Measures was enacted on 29 March 2020. According to Article 52 the following principles apply to convicts to be deported:

  1. a) The decree on expulsion is sent to the Office of the Chief Public Prosecutor where it is recorded in the execution book and sent to the highest security authority and immigration administration units.
  2. b) Before being released from the institution, the administration of the institution informs the highest security authority of that place and the units of immigration administration on the release date of the convict. On the date of release, the convict is delivered to law enforcement for deportation proceedings.
  3. c) The deportation of convicts not housed in institutions are carried out by immigration administration units.

Assessments regarding deportation procedures for convicts are made by the Ministry of Interior.

The government had several drives to apprehend irregular migrants. For example, on 29 January 2022, the Ministry of the Interior carried out a ‘Peace Practice’ operation to combat irregular migration. The operation was carried out at 8,820 points with 36,126 personnel and 608 detector dogs searching abandoned places where foreigner citizens were known to stay, including public entertainment venues, truck garages, terminals, ports and fishermen’s shelters, public transport stops and stations.127 organizers, 72 of whom were foreign nationals, were detained, and 2,028 irregular migrants were caught.[29] PMM regularly shared the number of irregular migrants caught in 81 cities. For instance, from 26 August to 1 September 2022, 2,234 irregular migrants coming from Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine and Eritrea were caught. PPM announced that a total of 38,117 migrant smugglers had been caught and 9,288 were arrested by law enforcement units since 2016.[30] In 2022, these so-called “sweeping operations” were extensively implemented, resulting in a significant increase in the number of deported, unregistered Syrians in the country’s main cities such as Izmir, Istanbul and Ankara.[31]

In 2022, another ongoing practice was to apprehend an individual and then send him to a removal centre in a different city, thereby separating him from his family and making it difficult for him to contact a lawyer. A further observation is that fewer individuals are deported if they are from a country in Central Asia or Africa due to the higher expense of deportation compared to Syria or Afghanistan.[32] In another case involving an unaccompanied minor whose age was appeared to be over 18 on paper, he was sent to three different removal centres before arriving at Kutahya removal centre.[33]

Afghans have been mainly treated as ‘illegal migrants’ in the press and by government officials and were singled out for restrictive migration measures. Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu received the Taliban’s Deputy Minister of Refugees and their delegation. During the meeting, the return of Afghan immigrants in Türkiye was evaluated.In January 2022, Türkiye’s interior minister said that Türkiye had (re)started sending ‘illegal Afghans’ back to Afghanistan with Ariana Airlines and charter flights.[34] Minister Soylu said that five charter flights had left at that point with Afghans being sent back to Afghanistan every 3-5 days from removal centres as part of a ‘voluntary return’ programme. [35] On 25 April 2022, PMM acknowledged the realisation of the 30th charter flight back to Afghanistan in a tweet. PMM said in September 2022 that 186 charter flights returned 44,786 Afghans to Afghanistan and in October 2022 that 78,716 irregular migrants had been deported since January 2022. Deportations of Afghans increased 146% over the previous year.[36]

The vast majority of returns from removal centres are believed not to be voluntary. Lawyers in Van, İzmir, Agri, İstanbul and Gaziantep have all expressed serious concerns about clients being forced to sign voluntary return forms.[37] Detained migrants also frequently criticised the conditions in detention centres.  Iranian refugees who were ordered deported defined the situation at the removal centre as ‘violence is the norm’.[38]


Appeal before the Administrative Court

The appeal against a deportation decision is a remedy separate from remedies in the international protection procedure.[39] It now has automatic suspensive effect, following a review of the LFIP in reforms from December 2019, and the deletion of exceptions to the right to remain on the territory.[40]

However, removal decisions must be appealed before the Administrative Court within seven days of notification.[41] Lawyers report it is extremely difficult to gather all the information and write an appeal in seven days particularly if the case needs translation work or there are difficulties accessing a client in detention. This short time limit has a negative effect on both access to justice and the quality of the lawyer-client relationship. Some courts exercise the seven-day rule very strictly. This creates a significant problem, as Administrative Court decisions on deportation appeals are final. Appeals against deportation and administrative detention decisions mean different practices in different provinces since there are no higher judicial bodies or higher authority to standardise practices. Lawyers have found it difficult to prepare and file an appeal in such a short period. Notification is also a common issue in removal centres. The seven-day time limit starts with the notification of the deportation decision, so it carries special importance. When the file of the applicant is sent to the court by PDMM, sometimes there is no notification. In this case, the PDMM sometimes include a note such as “refused to give their signature” before sending the documents to the court. İstanbul Administrative Courts were generally positive and more flexible in terms of deadlines.[42] The 1st Administrative Court of Izmir requested the Constitutional Court to conduct a normative review of the seven-day limit in January 2023.[43]

In criminal investigations with a political context (related to the PYD and ISIS), the mere existence of an investigation can be sufficient for a deportation decision to be issued. An acquittal has not stopped deportations. Deportation decisions have started to be made even for those whose trial was pending and brought before the court due to a summary offense.[44] A new judge was appointed to the Gaziantep Magistrates’ Court, and the quality of decisions improved slightly. For instance, if a criminal proceeding is pending against the applicant, she ruled that the deportation must halt until its conclusion.[45] At the same time however, the quality of criminal cases’ decisions in which the defendant is a foreigner appeared to drop. For instance, in the ‘burglary in store ‘ cases that are prevalent in big brands such as H&M and Zara’s Istanbul stores, in the past, lawyers could request a video footage to prove whether or not the alleged burglary took place, but in 2022, judges decided the detriment of foreigners based on police or shop owners’ testimonies.[46]

There are centres for data verification for refugees in İzmir. People go there to change the information on their ID cards. In İzmir, there is a separate building from the PDMM. In the two communications, it was implied that the software used by the PMM (Göç Net database) is now connected to UYAP and can draw on personal information about foreigner nationals regarding their legal cases, etc. PMM did not have this access in the past. PMM does not look whether a final judgment is in place- it is sufficient to find a criminal file linked to the foreigner. In the past, in data verification centers, deportation procedures could be initiated if the foreigner had a security-related code such as G87. However, with the latest communications sent by PMM, it is possible to start the deportation process because of a simple fight with a neighbour.[47]

Since first instance Administrative Court decisions are not shared with the public in Türkiye, it is difficult for experts and lawyers to assess the effectiveness and quality of judicial review. In the past, there was no uniform application of the non-refoulement principle in Administrative Court reviews of deportation decisions. Even where the execution of removal was suspended by Administrative Courts, compliance with court orders was reported to be arbitrary and dependent upon the individual police officers in question.

In 2022, the case of four Iranian women who protested against Türkiye’s decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention in 2021 was dismissed, and the Denizli Administrative Court ruled that the protestors’ deportation decision was lawful. This decision was extensively criticised by NGOs and opposition party representatives.[48]

Problems regarding voluntary returns and the process remained the same in 2022. (See AIDA 2020 and 2021 updates). In the southeast region, voluntary returns from removal centres are ongoing and those returned are mostly Syrians. Similar to last year, there is no UNHCR supervision over voluntary returns that take place from removal centres.[49]

Article 60(a) LFIP on assisted voluntary return was amended in December 2019 to add that in-kind or cash support can be provided to persons deemed appropriate by the PMM in cases of voluntary return to their country of origin.[50] PMM created its own assited voluntary return mechanism; however, such mechanism lacks transparency and the number of returnees is unclear. There are ongoing legislative works for enactment of a regulation on assisted voluntary return, which could potentially address the issues on transparency.[51] In Esenyurt, Istanbul 67 Syrians voluntarily returned to Syria due to cost of living crisis in Turkyie in 2022. [52]

Stakeholders kept reporting that people who have been persuaded to sign a voluntary return form from removal centres came back to Türkiye in 2022. The temporary protection regulation provides a legal opportunity for re-arrivals, as it is stipulated in the law that re-application will reactivate IDs. In practice, especially after the policy change in 6 June, people either cannot access registration or their applications are rejected and they have to appeal against the decision.[53]


The complaint procedure before the Constitutional Court

An individual complaints procedure is available before the Constitutional Court, which is styled after the individual complaints procedure of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and is partially aimed at reducing the high number of complaints against Türkiye at the ECtHR. Individuals can file an individual complaint with the Constitutional Court on claims of a violation of “any of the fundamental rights and liberties provided by the Turkish Constitution and safeguarded by the ECHR and its Protocols” within 30 days of the exhaustion of all existing administrative and judicial remedies.[54]

While individual complaints to the Constitutional Court do not carry suspensive effect, the applicants can request an urgent interim measure as per Article 73 of the Rules of Court on account of “serious risk on the applicant’s life, physical and moral integrity”. This urgent application procedure by the Constitutional Court, in situations of imminent risk of deportation where the person concerned alleges a risk to their life or risk of torture if returned, is similar in nature to the Rule 39 procedure of the ECtHR. From October 2016 to December 2019, the Constitutional granted 1,545 interim measures to halt deportation decisions when automatic suspensive effect of appeal of deportation orders were removed with a legislative amendment and stopped this practice when a legal amendment to these and other articles of the LFIP was made in December 2019 to bring back the automatic suspensive effect.[55] Lawyers no longer directly apply to the Constitutional Court when an administrative body unlawfully deports their client, but to the relevant administrative court.

The European Court of Human Rights convicted Türkiye in a lawsuit filed on the grounds that Türkiye illegally deported a Syrian temporary protection holder to his country.[56]




[1] Article 80(1)(e) LFIP.

[2] Article 54(2) LFIP, as amended by Article 36 Emergency Decree 676 of 29 October 2016. The provision cites Article 54(1)(b), (d) and (k) LFIP, the latter inserted by Emergency Decree 676.

[3] Daily Sabah, ‘Turkey deports thousands of foreigners who disrupt public order’, 21 July 2022, available at:

[4] Article 77 Regulation No 28578 on Conditions of Probation, 5 March 2013, as amended by Article 1 Regulation No 30631 of 20 December 2018.

[5] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2023.

[6] For further analysis, see; Gamze Ovacık, Turkish Judicial Practices on International Protection, Removal and Administrative Detention in Connection with the Safe Third Country Concept (On İki Levha Publications 2021) 168-177.

[7] Information from a stakeholder, March 2021.

[8] Information from a stakeholder, May 2022.

[9] Information from a stakeholder, May 2023.

[10] Information from a stakeholder, May 2023.

[11] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2023.

[12] Information provided by multiple stakeholders, May 2023.

[13] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2023.

[14] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2022.

[15] Karar, ‘Risk analiz merkezi kapılarını KARAR’a açtı’, 28 April 2016, available in Turkish at:

[16] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2023.

[17] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2023.

[18] Information provided by a stakeholder, June 2023.

[19] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2023.

[20] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2023.

[21] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2023.

[22] For examples of decisions cancelling a “G87” code due to lack of evidence, see 1st Administrative Court of Ankara, Decision 2018/2207, 13 February 2019; Decision 2018/524, 14 March 2018.

[23] Information provded by a stakeholder, May 2023.

[24] See e.g. District of Ankara, Decision 2018/462, 7 September 2018, which overturned the 1st Administrative Court of Ankara Decision 2018/524 of 14 March 2018.

[25] Information provided by multiple stakeholders, May 2023.

[26] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2023.

[27] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2023.

[28] Aricle 60/3 (l) LFIP.

[29] Anadolu Agency, ‘Peace Practice’ was carried out to combat irregular migration’, 29 January 2022. Available in Turkish at:

[30] PMM, ‘2016 Yılından Bu Yana Kolluk Birimlerimizce Toplam 38.117 Göçmen Kaçakçısı Yakalandı, 9.288’i Tutuklandı’, 20 April 2022, available in Turkish at:

[31] Information provided by a stakeholder, June 2023.

[32] Information provided by a stakeholder, April 2023.

[33] Information provided by a stakeholder, June 2023.

[34] Gazete Duvar, ‘Süleyman Soylu, Taliban heyetiyle görüştü’, 18 August 2022, available at:  

[35] Duvar, ‘Minister Soylu: Süleyman Soylu: We will not give temporary protection to those coming from Damascus’, available in Turkish at:

[36] PMM, ‘Yılbaşından Bugüne 72.578 Kaçak Göçmen Sınır Dışı Edildi’, 23 August 2022, available in Turkish at:

[37] Information provided by multiple stakeholders, May 2023.

[38] Asya Robins, ‘Sınır dışı kararı verilen İranlı mülteciler geri gönderme merkezindeki koşulları anlattı: ‘Şiddet normal bir şey’’, BBC News, 16 February 2022, available at:  

[39] Article 53 LFIP.

[40] Law No 7196 amending several acts, 6 December 2019, available in Turkish at:

[41] Article 53(3) LFIP. This time limit has been ruled to be in line with the Turkish Constitution: Constitutional Court, Decision 2016/135, 14 July 2016, available in Turkish at:

[42] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2023.

[43] Information provided by a stakeholder, may 2023.

[44] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2022.

[45] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2023.

[46] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2023.

[47] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2022.

[48] ABC, ‘İstanbul Sözleşmesi eylemine katıldıkları için sınır dışı edilen İranlı mülteciler dünya basınında:’, 9 February 2022, available in Turkish at:

[49] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2023.

[50] Mülteci-Der, Joint Assessment: Proposed Amendments in the Law on Foreigners and International Protection of Türkiye, 4 December 2019, available at:

[51] Information provided by a stakeholder, June 2023.

[52] Tele 1, ‘Ülkesine dönen Suriyeli: Hayat pahalandığı için gidiyoruzd’, 11 October 2022, available in Turkish at:

[53] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2023.

[54] Articles 45-51 Law No 6216 on the Formation and Procedures of the Constitutional Court.

[55] Law No 7196 amending several acts, 6 December 2019, in Turkish at:

[56] Information provided by a lawyer of a Bar Association, February 2020.

[56] On the contrary, decisions of the Administrative Court are notified to the PDMM since they are party to the proceedings.

[56] ECHR, Akkad v. Turkiye, application number: 1557/19, 21 June 2022:

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of main changes since the previous report update
  • Introduction to the asylum context in Türkiye
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • Temporary Protection Regime
  • Content of Temporary Protection