Foreigners and International Protection in Turkey

February 17, 2021 Gökhan Cindemir 0 Comments

Turkey where stands as a crossroad of the civilisations, it had always been a place of asylum seekers since from its history. First international treaty of the human history can be still seen at the Istanbul Archeology Museum. Kadesh treaty was signed between Hititites and Egypt stating that “If a man flee from the land of Egypt–or two or three– and they come to the Great Prince of Hatti, the Great Prince of Hatti shall lay hold of them, and he shall cause that they be brought back to the great ruler of Egypt.”. As can be understood from written historical source, people were confronted with extradition or deportation since from 1258 BC in the geography of modern Turkey.

             Turkey, while party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, maintains the geographical limitation only to people originating from Europe. Despite this limitation, it provides non-European refugees with protection and temporary asylum, pending UNHCR’s search for durable solutions elsewhere.[1]In addition, Turkey enacted a specific law related to international protection called Law on Foreigners and International Protection entered into force in 2013. Article 61 of the law particularly made the refugee definition stating:

A person who as a result of events occurring in European countries and owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his citizenship and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it, shall be granted refugee status upon completion of the refugee status determination process

             According to provision mentioned above, people coming from Europe due to the incidents can have right to apply refugee status. As can be seen, Turkey repeated the same stance on the refugee status as in the Refugee Convention. Fear of being persecuted for reason of face, religion nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion are mentioned as the reasons to be eligible for application to refugee status. Therefore, Turkey widely covers application comes from the people who escaped from European country. European country must be considered as the countries which are member of European Commission. Therefore, applications come from Kazakhstan and Russia standing as Eurasian countries while being part of European commission must be evaluated by Turkish authorities under the scope of this provision.

             Article 62 of the law stipulates the people coming from out of European countries. This provision gives definition about the conditional refugee status:

A person who as a result of events occurring outside European countries and owing to wellfounded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it, shall be granted conditional refugee status upon completion of the refugee status determination process. Conditional refugees shall be allowed to reside in Turkey temporarily until they are resettled to a third country.  “

             As can be seen from the definition unlike Article 61 conditional refugees shall be allowed to reside in Turkey temporarily until they are resettled to a third country. Therefore, people coming outside European countries conditionally can stay in the country. However, if a foreigner or a stateless person confronts with the death penalty, torture, degrading treatment or punishment, violence in an armed conflict, subsidiary protection comes to an agenda regardless of a persons’ refugee or conditional refugee status. Article 63 holds this issue out as below:

Subsidiary Protection ARTICLE 63 – “(1) A foreigner or a stateless person, who neither could be qualified as a refugee nor as a conditional refugee, shall nevertheless be granted subsidiary protection upon the status determination because if returned to the country of origin or country of [former] habitual residence would: a) be sentenced to death or face the execution of the death penalty; b) face torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; c) face serious threat to himself or herself by reason of indiscriminate violence in situations of international or nationwide armed conflict; and therefore is unable or for the reason of such threat is unwilling, to avail himself or herself of the protection of his country of origin or country of [former] habitual residence.”

 APPLICATION PROCEDURE

Application procedure is perfectly described by the UN refrugee agency. In the application process, lawyer is important for preparation of your file. However, a lawyer cannot apply on behalf of you. In that regard, UN refrugee agency also mentioned the instructions for applications : (source : https://help.unhcr.org/turkey/information-for-non-syrians/national-asylum-procedures-ip/)

As an international protection applicant, you will not be subjected to criminal action for irregular (illegal) entry into Turkey or irregular (illegal) stay in Turkey, provided that you give a justified reason for your irregular entry or presence. After registration with PDMM, and in accordance with the law, you should reside in the city that has been assigned to you.

Following your registration with PDMM, an International Protection Applicant ID (IPAID) will be issued for you and your family members; you will be legally staying in Turkey with your ID document. On the ID document, an individual foreigner’s ID number (99 xxxxxx), will be  printed for you and for each of your family members. This ID number grants you and each of your family member the access to a set of rights and services in Turkey.

Please note that the law also obliges you to maintain regular contact with PDMM; this is done by reporting to PDMM at regular intervals and signing yourself in (“signature duty”). You will be notified of the scheduled times for your signature duty.

Complying with signature duty is very important. Unless you have presented valid reasons for why you are not able to fulfil your signature duty, PDMM may consider your international protection application as implicitly withdrawn, and accordingly issue a decision which needs to be appealed in Court. Therefore, to avoid possible deportation and lengthy court procedures, please perform your signature duty at the scheduled times.

Status determination procedure conducted by the Turkish authorities

The Turkish authorities have the primary responsibility for receiving and assessing your international protection application.

At the time of your registration with PDMM, you will be asked to provide information on your reasons for leaving your country of origin or former habitual residence; your experience following departure; and events that led to the application.

As per the law, an in-person interview should normally be conducted with you within 30 days from the date of registration; however, it is possible that it may take place later. It is important that you present yourself at PDMM at whatever time your interview is scheduled. Additional interviews may be conducted when considered necessary. National law and regulations require that the confidentiality of your identity and the information that you provide shall be respected.

As per the law, the assessment of the application will be finalized no later than six months after the date of your registration by the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM). Please note this may take longer. Decisions will be made on an individual basis; applications on behalf of a family will be evaluated as a single application and the decision will be valid for the whole family. Your personal circumstances and the current general conditions in your country of origin or former habitual residence will be taken into consideration in making the decision.

Appeal procedure

If your international protection application was rejected or has been considered withdrawn by DGMM/PDMM, and you disagree with the decision, you may appeal the negative decision. Appeals need to be submitted to the International Protection Evaluation Commission (IPEC) within 10 days, or alternatively to the administrative court within 30 days, of the date of the notification of the decision. If your application was considered in the accelerated procedure, or considered inadmissible, you can appeal the negative decision to the administrative court within 15 days. Should you fail to appeal the negative decision within that time, the negative decision will become final.

You may benefit from legal aid services to appeal these negative decisions. Legal aid is provided by the Legal Aid Bureaus under each Bar Association in Turkey.

[1] https://www.unhcr.org/474ac8e60.pdf

Foreigners and International Protection in Turkey was last modified: February 17th, 2021 by Gökhan Cindemir