Academic journal article Refuge

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

Academic journal article Refuge

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

Article excerpt


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.


Alors que les pays europeens riverains de la Mediterranee mettent en place des mesures de plus en plus severes pour endiguer les flux de la migration irreguliere a travers leurs frontieres, la Turquie devient l'un des principaux carrefours des flux migratoires vers l'Europe en provenance d'Afrique, d'Asie et du Moyen-Orient. Dans un meme temps, dans le cadre du processus d'adhesion de la Turquie a l'Union europeenne, cette derniere a intensifie la pression sur les autorites turques pour empecher la circulation de migrants, demandeurs dhsile et refugies vers l'Europe. Suite aux efforts de la Turquie a limiter les flux migratoires irreguliers, des milliers de ressortissants etrangers sans papiers, refugies parmi eux, sont detenus soit en tentant de penetrer ou de quitter le pays illegalement. Ils sont pour la majorite places dans des centres de detention, officiellement designes << centre d'hebergement pour etrangers >>. Le ministere de l'Interieur turc limite severement l'acces des ONG nationales et internationales et des defenseurs des refugies aux detenus dans ces etablissements. La Helsinki Citizens' Assembly--Turkey (HCA), chef de file des ONG des droits humains basee a Istanbul, fournit une aide juridique aux refugies depuis 2004 grace a son programme de defense et de soutien des refugies. Appuye par des entretiens qu'a menes la HCA avec une quarantaine de refugies provenant de dix-sept pays, cet article etudie le droit procedural des refugies en detention, ainsi que les conditions dans les << centres d'hebergement. >> L'auteur identifie des lacunes entre les pratiques declarees et les normes de traitement enoncees a la fois dans le droit turc et les directives internationales sur la detention.

Introduction: The Report and Its Impact

This report, originally released by Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Turkey (HCA) in April 2008, was the first published evaluation of the conditions and practices in Turkey's migrant detention centres, known as "foreigners' guesthouses." For a number of years, HCA had been receiving requests for legal assistance from individuals held in these facilities. Many complained of difficulties applying for asylum, not understanding why they were detained or when they would be released, and of unhealthy detention conditions. HCA chose to compile the data gathered from these detainees and conduct a series of detailed interviews in order to get a more complete picture of the detention of migrants and refugees in Turkey. …

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