Unwelcome Guests: The Detention of Refugees in Turkey's "Foreigners' Guesthouses"'

Rachel Levitan, Esra Kaytaz, Oktay Durukan

Abstract


 As European countries bordering the Mediterranean have introduced increasingly harsh measures to stem the flow of irregular migration across their frontiers, Turkey has become one of the main crossroads for flows of migration from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East into Europe.At the same time, as part of Turkey’s accession process, the European Union has stepped up pressure on Turkey to prevent the movement of migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees into Europe.As a result of Turkey’s efforts to limit irregular migration flows, thousands of foreign nation­als without travel documents, refugees among them, are detained while attempting to either enter or exit the coun­try illegally.They are primarily held in detention centres, which are officially referred to as “foreigners’ guesthouses.” Turkey’s Ministry of Interior (MOI) severely limits access to detainees in these facilities by international and domestic NGOs and advocates.Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Turkey (HCA), a leading human rights NGO based in Istanbul, has provided legal aid to refugees since 2004 through its Refugee Advocacy and Support Program.Based on inter­views conducted by HCA with forty refugees from seventeen countries, this report examines refugees’ access to proced­ural rights in detention, as well as conditions in “foreigners’ guesthouses.” It identifies gaps between reported practice and standards of treatment set forth in Turkish legislation and international guidelines on detention.


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