European Parliament calls for stricter Turkish inspection of human smuggling

European Parliament calls for stricter Turkish inspection of human smuggling

Emine Kart - ANKARA
European Parliament calls for stricter Turkish inspection of human smuggling

A sinking boat is seen behind a Turkish gendarme off the coast of Çanakkale's Bademli district on January 30, 2016. AFP Photo

European Parliament Vice President Sylvie Guillaume has said refugees from the migrant crisis have been exploited, urging Turkey to take comprehensive measures to tackle the financial aspect of the human smuggling issue.

“This crisis has created a new business sector, a network. It has virtually turned into an industrial business. Some people are earning money from deaths. […] Financial inspection, also in regards to tax paying, is a must,” Guillaume said on Feb. 10 in Ankara. 

The French parliamentarian was speaking at a press conference as she led a seven-member strong delegation from the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in order to assess the situation concerning refugees fleeing to Turkey on the ground.

“There are persons who gain millions of euros by exploiting dead people. Capturing smugglers who earn small money in isolated cases would not bring a final solution to this issue,” Guillaume said. “Financial surveillance and inspection mechanisms need to be developed in order to reach those who lead this activity.” 

The Turkish government recently announced it was prepared to legally treat human smuggling as a terror crime. Among a set of measures aimed at increasing the country’s ability to combat human smuggling under intense pressure to stem the flow of migrants to Europe, the government agreed to rapidly implement a proposal which aimed to increase border security by improving coordination between various law-enforcement agencies and government bodies. The plan to combat human smuggling also included increasing the Turkish Coast Guard’s capabilities, designating human smuggling as organized crime and increasing punishments.

Turkey agreed in November 2015 to fight the smuggling networks and help curb irregular migration. The European Union had pledged 3 billion euros to help improve the refugees’ conditions in return.

Call for Aleppo 

European parliamentarians joined calls on Turkey to open its border to people fleeing violence, with tens of thousands of Syrians still stranded on Feb. 10 at the frontier north of the city of Aleppo, as the border remained closed despite an appeal by the United Nations to let civilians pass.

Guillaume said they were aware Turkey was extending aid to Syrians waiting on the other side of the border, and added: “These are temporary steps. We are calling on the Turkish government to open the border because these people are under threat.”

Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, a Swedish member of the delegation, joined Guillaume. Bildt noted, “Turkey has closed its border from time to time,” referring to previous cases without elaborating.