Access to detention facilities


Country Report: Access to detention facilities Last updated: 14/07/23



Under Article 68(8) LFIP, detained applicants for international protection will be provided opportunities to meet with their legal representatives, UNHCR officials and notaries. The law, however, fails to make explicit reference to the right of detained applicants to meet with NGO representatives. It is considered that this deliberate absence is meant to limit or deny detained applicants’ access to NGO legal counsellors, which must be seen as an arbitrary reduction of the safeguard in Article 68 LFIP.

Detained applicants may also receive visitors. In this regard, all visits will be subject to permission. Visits to detained applicants at border premises are subject to permission from the Vice-Governor’s Office in charge of the border gate. Visits to detained applicants in other facilities are subject to the permission of the PMM official in charge of the facility. Request for visiting a detained applicant may be turned down where the “applicant’s condition and the general circumstances are not suitable”. This vague formulation raises concerns that arbitrary restrictions may be imposed on visitors’ access to the centres.

Detention authorities shall determine the duration of the approved meetings and visits. On the other hand, they are required to take measures to ensure confidentiality of the encounters.


Access of lawyers to Removal Centres

From 2019, lawyers were able to visit their clients in many removal centres without showing a power of attorney or written reques in many removal centers.

In İzmir the removal centre management still required power of attorney to let the lawyers in to have a pre-meeting with their potential clients. Even though according to Code on Lawyers, lawyers have the right to meet with their potential clients without it.[1] Lawyers have been also subjected to long delays and security checks including X-ray body searches before being able to interview clients.[2] Harmandalı Removal Centre management in İzmir does not report requests from refugees for legal aid to the lawyers directly. Lawyers become aware of the request through their relatives or by coincidence. This continued in 2022 when NGOs and social networks of the person in detention informed lawyers of the presence of their clients in removal centres. No specific access issues to removal centres were reported for 2022.[3]

The removal centre in Ankara does not accept lawyers after 17.00. Lawyers have difficulties examining the files of their potential clients. The removal centre management asks for power of attorney to examine the files however Ankara PDMM has offered to assist in solving this issue. The removal centre is located far away from the centre and the only transportation is by car or taxi.[4]

In İzmir, lawyers need to bring their own interpreter who has to be under oath. Certified translators continued to be requested in 2022. There is a fixed line in the client – lawyers’ meeting room. There is no obstacle for the notary to enter, but the fees and related expenses are significant. Fees vary depending on whether the person has an ID and speaks Turkish or not. A power of attorney document costs around 1,000 TRY (approx. 45 EUR). However, if the lawyer is assigned through legal aid, this power of attorney can be presented to the court. Administrative courts in other provinces may not accept the assignment of legal aid from the İzmir Bar and demand a separate power of attorney.[5]

In İstanbul NGO lawyers can access removal centres without submitting power of attorney but they usually wait for a long time. There are four detention centres in İstanbul: Selimpasa, Binkilic, Tuzla and Pendik.  Vatan Police Stations in İstanbul are also used. This means that when a legal aid lawyer receives an appointment through the legal aid service, the lawyer has to check these six locations to find out where the client is. Police officers can reportedly give misleading information to lawyers in order to prevent them accessing their client. For legal aid lawyers, access to removal centres is very difficult if they have no car. They are 60 km away from the centre. In 2022, fewer issues were reported regarding access to removal centres in İstanbul.[6] In Tuzla Removal Center detention facility, there is no waiting room for lawyers and lawyers have to wait outside. The removal center officers limit the client-lawyer meeting with 10 minutes. In the Pendik detention facility, the client-lawyer meeting room is made of glass and there is no privacy at all.[7] Their problems in getting a copy of clients’ file or getting clear information about their client’s location was a persistent problem in 2022.[8] There were interpreters present in removal centers and police stations and providing interpretation services when necessary, but other translators likely to be more neutral were not allowed to access the premises. Attorneys in İstanbul used CIMER (Communication Directorate of the Presidency) extensively in cases where there was no access to files, and it was effective. CIMER is an online platform established to provide a quick and effective response to requests, complaints and applications for information from the public.[9] The administrative complaints mechanism is ineffective, judicial methods are rather slow, but CIMER is a very useful remedy in this regard.

Poor conditions were reported regarding the Igdir Removal Centre. It was constructed primarily from containers. Stakeholders indicate that access to the removal centre is limited and problematic.[10]


Access of UNHCR and NGOs to Removal Centres

The Removal Centres Regulation does not expressly regulate the conditions upon which UNHCR, European Delegation in Türkiye and NGOs have access to Removal Centres.

In practice, UNHCR does not enjoy unhindered access to Removal Centres but has developed working modalities with PMM. No data was provided regarding UNHCR’s possibility to access to removal centers in 2022. The European Delegation in Turkiye also has access to removal centers as the EU has provided financial support to the construction of new removal centers. By the end of 2022, the European Delegation had conducted two visits to removal centers in Gaziantep and Sanliurfa.[11]

NGOs have no established protocols with PMM for access to Removal Centres. Regarding access to and contact with family members, practice varies across the centres.




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

[2] Information provided by a lawyer of a Bar Association, March 2019. See also Human Rights Association, ‘İzmir Harmandalı Geri Gönderme Merkezi Hakkında Gözlem Raporu’, 9 July 2017, available in Turkish at:

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

[4] Information provided by a stakeholder, March 2020 and May 2023.

[5] Information provided by a stakeholder, March 2021 and May 2023.

[6] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2022 and May 2023.

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

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

[9] See, Presidency of the Republic of Türkiye, Directorate of Communications, “CIMER Revolution: In today’s Türkiye, our citizens have a share in state administration”, 3 December 2019. Available at:

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

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

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