Removal centres in Turkey: a right to access still denied
On May 27, 2010, a delegation comprising of Turkish and European Parliamentarians as well as members of the Migreurop network went to the detention centre of Kumkapi. Although this visit had been planned and announced beforehand, Turkish authorities first denied access of the delegation to the place, where migrants were being detained. Following one hour of negotiations, only Parliamentarians were authorised to access the third floor of the centre, where women are being detained, but were not allowed to access the other places. Contacts with male detainees could only be made through the fence which separates the administrative unit, from the place where they are detained, which made any individual meeting impossible.
This denial of the right to access to NGO is emblematic of the lack of transparency and for the little information provided to foreigners to claim their rights as only fortunate ones are able to have access to a lawyer’s assistance.
To date, only the United Nations High Commission for Refugees has access to the Kumkapi centre. The number of asylum applications still remains particularly low, considering the fact that 12 000 foreigners per year are detained in this centre and among them, nearly 11 000 would be deported. In 2009, only 72 asylum applications were registered , and for the year 2010, this number amounted to 47 at the moment of the visit. Many persons refuse to seek asylum because, even though the procedure is followed by UNHCR , they do remain in detention for long periods of time in Kumkapi.
During the visit, 346 foreigners, among them very young children, were detained in the Kumkapi centre, which has a capacity of 470 beds. Upon arrival in the centre families are separated. Access to health facilities is limited. The legal framework does not make provisions for a maximum duration period of detention. The arbitrary characteristic of detention put in place by Turkish authorities generates a lot of distress among many foreigners, as they reported themselves to the delegation.
Migreurop requests the Turkish government to allow NGOs working on migrant rights to have access to all the closed centres in order to defend the rights of detainees. The network also recalls its opposition to administrative detention of migrants as well as to the criminalisation of migration that forbids respect of fundamental rights.