A bill submitted to the Turkish Parliament last week brings about various amendments to the Law on Foreigners and International Protection (LFIP) as regards the international protection procedure, qualification, reception conditions, as well as removal procedures. The main changes proposed in the draft law amending various legislative acts (Bazı Kanunlarda ve 375 Sayılı Kanun Hükmünde Kararnamede Değişiklik Yapılmasına Dair Kanun Teklifi).
International protection procedure and qualification
Cessation: Article 86 inserts a cessation ground in Article 85(1) LFIP. Cessation may be applied where a beneficiary of international protection voluntarily leaves Turkey, benefits from the protection of a third country or is admitted to a third country under humanitarian admission or resettlement. According to the Explanatory Memorandum, the rationale behind this measure is to avoid practical challenges faced by the authorities in providing services to persons who have already been resettled or transferred to another country.
Documentation: Article 83: The reference to six months as validity period for International Protection Applicant Identification Cards in Article 76(1) LFIP is repealed. Under the bill, the Ministry of Interior will be responsible for laying down the rules and procedures for renewing these Identification Cards.
Article 85: As regards the duration of validity of documents issued to beneficiaries of international protection, the reference to periods of three years for refugees and one year for conditional refugees and subsidiary protection holders in Article 83 LFIP is repealed. The duration of validity of these documents, along with the rules on format and content, is to be determined by the Ministry of Interior.
Article 74: amends Article 46 LFIP relating to the duration of validity of humanitarian residence permits. These no longer have a maximum duration of validity of one year.
International protection procedure: Article 84 inserts a provision in Article 78(1) LFIP which enables the Directorate General for Migration Management (DGMM) to delegate to the Governorates the duty to inform the applicant when a decision on the international protection application has not been taken within six months.
Health care: Article 87 amends Article 89(3)(a) LFIP to provide that access to health care under Turkey’s General Health Insurance (Genel Sağlık Sigortası, GSS) is provided to applicants for international protection one year after the registration of their application, with the exception of persons with special needs. The right to health care ceases upon the issuance of a negative decision.
Reception of unaccompanied children: With regard to unaccompanied children, Article 82 amends Article 66 LFIP and clarifies that all unaccompanied children are to be accommodated in facilities operated by the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policies. The existing possibility for unaccompanied children over the age of 16 to be hosted in reception centres is repealed. The bill specifies that placement in facilities of the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policies takes place after unaccompanied children are assessed to be under the age of 18.
Removal and return
Appeals: Article 75: Under amended Article 53(3) LFIP, the deadline for appealing a removal decision before the Administrative Court is lowered from fifteen to seven days. At the same time, the bill reinstates automatic suspensive effect for all appeals against removal decisions, including those issued for reasons of public order, public health or relations in a terrorist organisation. This amendment effectively repeals the legislative change brought about by way of emergency decree in 2016, which was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court in Y.T. on 30 May 2019.
Pre-removal detention: Article 79: The amended Article 59(1)(f) LFIP removes the reference to unaccompanied children in Removal Centres, thereby affirming that unaccompanied children shall not be detained and should be taken into care by the Ministry of Family and Social Policies.
Article 78 inserts a new Article 57/A LFIP which lays down alternatives to pre-removal detention. These cover inter alia residence at a specific address, reporting duties, return counselling, and electronic tagging. Article 57(2) LFIP is amended by Article 77 to reflect the possibility to apply less coercive alternatives instead of detention.
Under Article 57/A LFIP, alternatives to detention shall not be imposed for a period exceeding 24 months. The bill provides that non-compliance with alternative measures is a ground for imposing pre-removal detention.
However, according to the proposed Articles 57(4) and 57/A(3) LFIP, persons who do not fall under one of the grounds for detention set out in Article 57(2) LFIP continue to be subject to one or more alternatives to detention, including after being released from administrative detention.
Finally, the Article 57(8) LFIP inserted by Article 77 provides that electronic devices held by detained persons may be examined by the authorities with a view to establishing the detainees’ nationality.
For further information:
- Anadolu Agency, İçişleri Bakanlığına ilişkin yeni düzenlemeler TBMM gündemine geliyor, 24 November 2019.
- BirGün, Mültecilere ilişkin teklif TBMM’ye sunuldu: Sınır dışı etme yasası, 19 November 2019.
- AIDA, Country Report Turkey, 2018 Update, March 2019.
*This information was first published by AIDA, managed by ECRE.
Photo: (CC) Davide Gabino, December 2012