Protection from refoulement

Türkiye

Country Report: Protection from refoulement Last updated: 17/08/22

Author

Independent

Article 6 TPR guarantees protection from refoulement to persons granted temporary protection. 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.[1] The reform was consolidated by Law No 7070 on 1 February 2018.

Since 2018, deportation decisions have been increasingly issued to Syrians based on the abovementioned provisions, similar to persons seeking international protection in Türkiye.

In one case, the Administrative Court of İzmir quashed a deportation decision against a Syrian national on foreign terrorist fighter (YTS) grounds, due to the fact that no evidence of terrorist activities had been established and that a criminal investigation was still pending.[2] However, in a different case concerning a Syrian national detained on public security grounds while criminal proceedings were ongoing, the Magistrates’ Court of Hatay refused to order release from detention on the basis that there existed a risk of absconding.[3] In another case, the Court refused to terminate detention,[4] despite the existence of an interim measure from the Constitutional Court.[5]

According to changes to the LFIP in December 2019, entry bans can now be applied to those who are in the country.[6]

The Temporary Protection Regulation was also amended in December 2019. According to these amendments, Syrians that are under temporary protection shall be deported if they do not comply with their notification duty three times consecutively.[7]

In early 2020 in Antakya the number of deportations executed was quite low. Instead, Syrian refugees are forced to sign a voluntary return form. In the case of a deportation decision, individuals are either sent to a third safe country (which is not applicable to Syrians) or held in a removal centre. In the removal centre, individuals are threatened that they will be held there for six months, plus another six months, and forced to sign the voluntary return form. They are told that they can come back to Türkiye illegally anytime. People sign the form, leave Türkiye and illegally re-enter Türkiye, but when they are caught upon return they are deported to Syria directly without any court process or decision because they do not know that a V-87 code (an entry ban) has already been put on their names. Those apprehended on the border are also being registered, their fingerprints are taken and forced to sign a voluntary return form to prevent them from legally entering Türkiye. Unregistered refugees staying in Antakya do not leave their houses due to fear of deportation.[8] This fear of deportation was still an issue for people seeking protection.

In Gaziantep, voluntary return forms are also being signed by force and the temporary protection status of those who return to Türkiye is not re-activated except vulnerable cases. This is a general application in the region and PDMMs say that this is the decision of the Governorates. They do not apply the DGMM circular of January 2019 on Cessation of Status of Syrians due to Voluntary Return. People are afraid to leave their houses due to a fear of deportation.

In some cases in 2019, Syrian refugees were deported to the ‘safe zone’ established by Türkiye in northern Syria[9] and courts found this practice to conform with the law. Stakeholders were concerned that UNHCR only monitors limited cases of voluntary returns, those that happen at the Öncüpınar border, (‘real’ voluntary returns) but not the ones from removal centres.[10]

In 2021, Türkiye began talks with UN about returns to Syria.[11] Although in practice people cannot be deported to Syria, deportation decisions are being issued. In 2021, several cases filed against deportation before the İzmir Administrative Court were successful on the grounds that no evaluation had been made as per the extent of Article 55 LFIP. Towards the end of 2021, the İzmir Administrative Court developed jurisprudence that Syrians could be deported to a safe third country. Although there is no practice about the safe third country, due to the change it was no longer possible to appeal against deportation. The foreign ID numbers of those who have had a deportation decision issued against them are not reactivated, which encourages irregular status. This has wide-ranging consequences such as parents not enrolling their children in school but sending them to work. Some irregular refugee workers lost their lives in İzmir. Thus, the policy of not registering people has left its mark.[12]

For a discussion on case law of Administrative Courts and the Constitutional Court on the derogation from non-refoulement, see also International Protection: Removal and Refoulement. For more information on the safe third country concept as applied to Syrians in 2020, see the section on the Safe third country.

[1] 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.

[2] 1st Administrative Court of İzmir, Decision 2017/1608, 28 February 2018.

[3] 2nd Magistrates’ Court of Hatay, Decision 2019/476, 31 January 2019. See also 1st Administrative Court of Hatay, Decision 2018/887, 18 January 2019.

[4] 2nd Magistrates’ Court of Hatay, Decision 2018/4287, 27 November 2018.

[5] The Constitutional Court had granted interim measures on 16 November 2018, and ordered interim measures again: Constitutional Court, Decision 2018/33177, 21 December 2018.

[6] Mülteci-Der, Joint Assessment: Proposed Amendments in the Law on Foreigners and International Protection of Türkiye, 4 December 2019, available at: http://bit.ly/2IRYoVQ.

[7] Evrensel, ‘Statü hakkı tanınmayan mülteciler yeni yaptırımlarla karşı karşıya’, 25 December 2019, available in Turkish at: http://bit.ly/2IL7kwp.

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

[9] For more information, see Al Jazeera, ‘Will Türkiye succeed in creating a ‘safe zone’ for Syrians?’, available at: https://bit.ly/2xxpDTR

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

[11] AP News, ‘Türkiye talks with UN over returning Syrian refugees,’ 12 September 2021. Available at: https://bit.ly/3xWyI4F.

[12] Information from a stakeholder, April 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