Differential treatment of specific nationalities in the procedure

Türkiye

Country Report: Differential treatment of specific nationalities in the procedure Last updated: 17/08/22

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Independent

Syria

Refugees arriving directly from Syria are subject to a group-based, prima facie-type Temporary Protection regime in Türkiye. The temporary protection regime currently in place covers Syrian nationals and stateless Palestinians originating from Syria. Those coming through a third country, however, are excluded from the temporary protection regime. Although they should be allowed to make an international protection application under the LFIP, in practice they are not allowed to apply and are only granted a short-term visa and then a short-term residence permit. This includes Syrian nationals who may arrive through another country even if their family members in Türkiye already benefit from temporary protection.[1] Recent worrying practices have been reported regarding the issuance of deportation orders in certain provinces such as İzmir, as described at the end of the Safe third country section.

Iraq

Iraqis are generally granted short-term residence permits once they are in Türkiye. Even where they apply for international protection, they are usually encouraged to opt for a short-term residence permit.[2] Previously, DGMM referred Iraqi Turkmens to Türkmeneli Derneği in Ankara with a view to confirming their origin. These persons usually obtain international protection, as do Uyghurs from China.[3] In 2020, one stakeholder noted that international protection applications which had not been examined for many years were suddenly evaluated and most of the decisions were negative. This predominantly concerned Iraqi applicants in Samsun, Çorum and Ankara. The deportation decisions were subsequently appealed and several were successful. One of these families held refugee status from UNHCR.[4]

 

Afghanistan

The barriers to access to the procedure following the takeover of registration of applicants for international protection by PMM in September 2018 (see Registration) have had particularly adverse effects on Afghan nationals. Many PDMM are reluctant to register their asylum applications.[5]

An expert opinion commissioned by PRO ASYL in 2020 concluded that Afghans seeking protection in Türkiye had not received adequate protection for many years. The main problems identified were as follows:

  • Systematic gaps in access to the protection system that undermine the legal framework. A lack of an identity card automatically excludes many Afghans from access to basic services such as education and healthcare, freedom of travel and increases their risk of deportation and detention.
  • The fact there are very low numbers of applications for international protection and status holders indicates important gaps in practice. Even when Afghan applicants manage to register and get an ID card, they encounter severe problems. In 2020, there were long waiting periods for a RSD appointment, an inadequate assessment of RSD applications and automatic rejections of applications with no access to social support.
  • Deportations, voluntary returns and detentions continued. There is a lack of interpreters, communication and privacy between client and lawyer in removal centres, and a lack of legal documents translated into Dari or Pashtun languages,
  • Publicly available quantitative data on Afghan refugees’ protection and reception conditions is low which limits the monitoring efforts of international and national NGOs. The low number of NGOs specifically working on and for Afghan refugees reflects the fact that funds and projects in Türkiye are mostly Syrian-centred. [6]

In 2020, in at least one case the judge assessed Afghanistan to be a safe country and the applicant’s appeal to suspend the deportation was not granted.[7]

This situation for Afghan refugees in Türkiye remained extremely difficult in 2021. The migration flow from Afghanistan to Türkiye was one of the biggest issues of the year, particularly after the Taliban took control in August. The media talked of ‘millions’ of Afghans waiting to cross the borders into Türkiye.[8] There was a tremendous public outcry against irregular crossings at the Iranian border and a public perception that Afghan single men “do not need international protection”.[9]

Stakeholders working in the field report Afghan migration to Türkiye was not as sizeable as depicted in the media. Nevertheless, there were considerably more arrivals than the official number.[10]

Against this backdrop, registration for Afghans was described as ‘almost impossible’ by one stakeholder. Another stakeholder reported that registration could only be registered in the eastern provinces.[11] Afghans themselves may have less awareness of procedures than other refugees in Türkiye in several ways. Afghans are less aware of the modern state’s institutions, and maintaining bureaucratic relations is difficult. Especially in the context of young men who come alone (including unaccompanied minors), it can be very difficult to identify them and legalize their stay in Türkiye. There are relatively large numbers of unaccompanied Afghan children who have no document or ID with them. Ten Afghan children can be staying together in the same house, working informally. Since they are not registered, they also have no acces[12]s to education. People from Afghanistan may specifically avoid contact with public institutions, which is an additional reason registration rates are low. As Afghans are unregistered, it is difficult for lawyers to get power of attorney. Then, Turkish courts look for documents to decide on cases, but this is almost impossible for Afghans, whose country is less institutionalized in terms of certification. Since August 2021 no Afghan embassy has been able to issue passports. It appears they do not have the necessary materials to issue a passport. They can only extend the validity of the passport. Some individuals have received travel documents similar to laissez-passer, but the international validity of those documents is unclear.

By 14 August 2021, the Turkish government stated that they would suspend deportations to Afghanistan due to a lack of country-of-origin information.[13] However, this was not uniformly implemented. Van PDMM requested the deportation of 227 Afghans to Afghanistan in January 2022, for example.

Case law on Afghanistan was not consistent despite the announcement that deportations would be suspended. One Afghan applicant appealed against PDMM’s negative decision on his international protection application and in October 2021 the 1st Administrative Court of Elazığ annulled the rejection decision stating that there was a risk of persecution for the applicant.[14] Again in October 2021, an Afghan applicant appealed against their deportation decision and further claimed that he had not received any response from PDMM on his international protection application. The First Instance Court in İstanbul ruled that the deportation decision was based on insufficient country of origin research and cancelled the deportation decision.[15] In November 2021, however, an Afghan applicant appealed against the negative decision on their international protection application issued by Aydın PDMM. Age assessment had found the applicant to be 17. They fled Afghanistan when 2-3 years old, lost their parents in 2017 while trying to reach Greece and have been living unaccompanied since then. The Court ruled that applicant’s case was substantially economic and there were no risk of well-grounded persecution or serious harm in case of return to Afghanistan.[16]

IOM’s assisted voluntary returns to Afghanistan were stopped after August 2021. However, PMM founded its own voluntary returns mechanism in 2021 (with the assistance of ICMPD and financed by the national budget), so if an Afghan wants to return to Afghanistan voluntarily this can happen through PMM’s voluntary return mechanism but not through IOM. This mechanism is less transparent; and the number of returnees is unclear. These returns were stopped for a couple of months following the fall of Kabul, but as of early 2022 the state is again sending back Afghans to Afghanistan under ‘voluntary return.’[17] See section on Access to the territory for more information.

 

Other nationalities

In 2019 PMM granted long term residency and humanitarian residence permits to applicants on the grounds of a new humanitarian circular.[18] The humanitarian residence permit is mainly granted to Egyptians, Chechens, Daghestanis and Tajiks. The authorities assess each application on a case-by- case basis depending on the likelihood of persecution in the country of origin. These groups are generally not deported to their country of origin, even if a deportation decision is issued against them.[19]

In 2020 there were reports of systemic discrimination against Iranians in İstanbul, who are stigmatized as thieves.[20] Asylum seekers of African origin also faced discrimination in registration. Prior to September 2018, African applicants, especially Somali families, were referred to Isparta and Burdur where communities are settled. This has not been the case since the takeover of registration by PMM.[21]

In 2021, there were reports that Iranians who had lodged their applicants years ago were called for an interview, and their applications were quickly rejected. One stakeholder suspected an internal letter from PMM aimed at applications by Iranians, or an instruction or request from the Iranian state. This practice causes difficulties even for Iranian citizens who had entered Türkiye legally, including those having short-term residence permits or owning property in Türkiye. A stakeholder likened this to a ‘systematic repatriation policy.’[22]

 

 

 

[1] Information provided by stakeholders, March 2019.

[2] Information provided by a stakeholder, March 2019.

[3] Information provided by a stakeholder, March 2019.

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

[5] Information provided by stakeholders in Ankara, Van, Antakya and İzmir, February to March 2020. See also, Refugees International, ‘’We don’t have space for you all’: The struggles Afghan refugees face in Türkiye’, 12 June 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2wBnPbI; and Refugees International, ‘”You cannot exist in this place” Lack of registration denies Afghan refugees protection in Türkiye’, 13 December 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2RE8Epv.

[6] Expert Opinion, The Situation of Afghan Refugees in Türkiye, Commissioned by Stiftung PRO ASYL, March 2021.

[7] İzmir 1st Administrative Court, docket number: 2020/231, date of judgement: 16.10.2020.

[8] See for example, Ansamed, ‘Two million Afghans ready to enter Türkiye from Iran’, 22 October 2021. Available at: https://bit.ly/3zZUMx2.

[9] Information provided by stakeholder, May 2021.

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

[11] Information provided by two stakeholders, May 2022.

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

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

[14] 1st Administrative Court of Elazığ, decision number 2021/1248.

[15] 1st Administrative Court of İstanbul, decision number 2020/2766.

[16] 1st Administrative Court of Aydın, decision number 2021/290.

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

[18] Information provided by a stakeholder from İstanbul, February 2020.

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

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

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

[22] Information from a stakeholder, May 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