Cessation of temporary protection

Türkiye

Country Report: Cessation of temporary protection Last updated: 17/08/22

Author

Independent

Temporary protection status shall cease for a particular beneficiary where he or she:[1]

  1. Leaves Türkiye voluntarily;
  2. Avails him or herself of the protection of a third country;
  3. Is admitted to a third country on humanitarian grounds or for resettlement.

Voluntary return was a prominent issue and concern in the temporary protection system in 2019. The Minister of Justice stated that in 2019, 373,592 Syrian nationals had left Türkiye to return to their country of origin,[2] and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared that around 371,000 people had returned to safe zones in Syria.[3] The Ministry of Defence has said that around 580,000 Syrians repatriated in 2019 including 380,000 to the Euphrates Shield Zone, 135,000 to the Peace Spring Shield Zone and over 65,000 to the Olive Branch Zone.[4] These statements should be read with caution, however, vis-à-vis the voluntariness of returns to Syria, and re-entry to Türkiye of persons who have travelled to Syria. In 2020 stakeholders interviewed did not report any major change in policy but due to COVID-19 the situation was different with less detention due to social distancing measures and less returns due to travel restrictions between March and September 2019. In 2021 return was still high on the agenda and in early 2022 the government said that over 500,000 Syrians had returned home. There was Turkish support for Syrians returning with the ‘Together we stand with Idlib’ programme to build housing. According to officials, 59,679 homes have been constructed by Turkish organisations and institutions in the Idlib, Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch Operations regions. Türkiye is also building mosques, hospitals and schools in the area.[5]

 

Voluntariness of repatriation

The TPR does not specify how the cessation criterion of voluntary departure from Türkiye is to be assessed. In theory, when a temporary protection beneficiary indicates the intention to return to Syria, he or she is interviewed by a panel consisting of PMM, UNHCR and civil society; the latter not being applied in practice. A lawyer can also be present in the interview. The panel assesses whether return is in fact voluntary and the underlying reasons behind it. Return cases are often related to people having property or a job in Syria.[6]

UNHCR continued to monitor voluntary returns in 2021. According to their 2021 report, UNHCR observed the voluntary return interviews of 22,275 Syrians (over 17,200 families) in 16 provinces across Türkiye, including the southeast region, İstanbul, İzmir and Ankara. More than 90% of the total interviews observed by UNHCR were undertaken in the southeast. The preferred destinations of return in 2021 were Aleppo, Idlib, Ar-Raqqa and Al Hasakeh. Most returnees stated that the main reason for the decision to return to Syria was to reunite with family members or to care for dependent family members.[13]

Where temporary protection is terminated based on cessation, DGMM issues a “V87” code to mark the person as a “voluntarily returned foreigner”. The person is usually left at the border and handles the return process him or herself.[14] However, beneficiaries are not always adequately informed of the process.

Moreover, the aforementioned interview procedure is not followed in Removal Centres. Persons signing voluntary return documents – often following pressure from authorities (see Detention of Asylum Seekers) – do not undergo an interview by a panel aimed at establishing whether return is voluntary.[15]

 

Re-entry following cessation

It is common for refugees to travel back to Syria for administrative reasons e.g. renewal of passport, and then to return to Türkiye.[16]

Admission to the temporary protection regime of persons who previously benefitted from temporary protection in Türkiye but their status was ceased is assessed on an individual basis by PMM.[17] PMM is authorised to grant or deny renewed access to temporary protection status upon repeat arrival in Türkiye.

There continue to be cases of people whose temporary protection status was ceased, and who were issued a “V87” code, being unable to re-access rights upon return to Türkiye. DGMM issued a Circular on 7 January 2019, instructing PDMM to lift the “V87 code” in respect of persons returning to Türkiye after having signed a “voluntary return document”, especially pregnant women, elderly persons and children, as of 1 January 2019, to allow them to re-access services.[18] The Circular also requires PDMM to provide detailed information to temporary protection beneficiaries on the legal implications of signing a “voluntary return document”.

In Antakya requests for reactivation of temporary protection were high in 2019. In case of deportation for a registered Syrian, temporary protection was deactivated and a code called a c-114 was issued. In case of return to Türkiye, temporary protection was not re-activated during the first year of return leaving Syrians at risk of deportation even in the case of a minor problem or where they are the plaintiff or witness of a criminal issue or complaint. People sign voluntary return forms often without knowing what they are for and deportations are carried out mostly on weekends. There was a case of a married woman with four children including one disabled child who was deported alone to Syria.[19]  However, the ‘V-87’ circular had a positive effect. Interviews for those whose temporary protection had been cancelled began to be held mainly for vulnerable refugees with no criminal record in Türkiye.[20]

In İzmir in 2019, the temporary protection of Syrians who were previously and unlawfully deported and kept in detention centres was not re-activated once they returned to Türkiye which is against the law. However, Syrians with special needs like victims of violence or international human trafficking were treated with more care by PDMM.[21] The deactivation of temporary protection can be problematic for families with school-age children. In urgent cases, PDMM can reactivate temporary protection in a limited way – meaning that it is activated only for health or education purposes.[22] In 2020, when temporary protection was deactivated in İzmir, people were released with an obligation to regularly report and sign-in but their legal status remained uncertain. The Constitutional Court issues interim measures but it only rules over the question whether an applicant should be deported to the country of origin (Syria) or not. It does not give an injunction order not to be deported to a third country. As a result, there is an increasing practice of Syrians receiving deportation orders to a third safe third country. Therefore, the interim measures issued by the Constitutional Court are not functional.[23] This has led to people signing voluntary return forms and returning to Syria but then returning back to Türkiye. Upon return, these persons often do not apply to PDMM offices and live unregistered due to their lack of trust in authorities.[24]

The question of cessation has also arisen in the context of the readmission of Syrian nationals from Greece to Türkiye under the EU-Türkiye statement. An amendment to the TPR was introduced on 5 April 2016 to clarify that Syrian nationals, who entered Türkiye after 28 April 2011 and who transited irregularly to the Aegean islands after 20 March 2016, “may” be provided temporary protection.[25] PMM statistics refer to 412 Syrian “irregular migrants” readmitted by Türkiye from 4 April 2016 to 5 April 2021 – an increase of 8 persons in 2020.[26]  These returns were frozen in 2021 as far as stakeholders were aware.

 

 

 

 

[1] Article 12(1) TPR.

[2] Haber 3, ‘2019’da gönüllü olarak Suriye’ye dönen Suriyeli sayısı açıklandı’, 1 January 2020, available in Turkish at: https://bit.ly/3bB1R7H.

[3] AA news, ‘Dışişleri Bakanı Çavuşoğlu: 371 bin Suriyeli güvenli şekilde geri döndü’, 16 December 2019, available in Turkish at: https://bit.ly/2QVuzs2.

[4] Ministry of Defence, available in Turkish at: https://bit.ly/3atM5uZ.

[5] MEMO, ‘Türkiye: half-million Syrians return voluntarily to their country’, 2 June 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3nA8H5n.

[6] Information provided by an NGO, February 2019.

[7] İstanbul PDMM statement available here (in Turkish): https://bit.ly/33LBDwB.

[8] Information provided by a lawyer from the İstanbul Bar Association, February 2020.

[9] Amnesty International, Sent to a War Zone: Türkiye’s Illegal Deportations of Syrian Refugees, 25 October 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/3dBsknn.

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

[11] Information provided by a lawyer from the Antakya Bar Association, February 2020.

[12] Information provided by a stakeholder in Antakya, February 2020.

[13] UNHCR Türkiye: 2021 Operational Highlights, available at: https://bit.ly/3yuZMIK. Page 9.

[14] Information provided by an NGO, February 2019.

[15] Information provided by an NGO, February 2019.

[16] Information provided by Kirkayak Cultural Centre, February 2019.

[17] Article 13 TPR.

[18] DGMM Circular 2019/1 on Cessation of Status of Syrians due to Voluntary Return, 7 January 2019.

[19] Information provided by a lawyer from the Antakya Bar Association, February 2020.

[20] Information provided by SGDD-ASAM Antakya, February 2020.

[21] Information provided by a lawyer from the İzmir Bar Association, February 2020.

[22] Information provided by a lawyer from the Antakya Bar Association, February 2020.

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

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

[25] Provisional Article 1(6) TPR, as inserted by Article 1 Regulation 2016/8722 of 5 April 2016.

[26] DGMM, Return statistics, available at: https://bit.ly/3wm3j97.

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