‘Humane’ bill for refugees await approval

‘Humane’ bill for refugees await approval

Barçın Yinanç / Tuba Parlak ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
‘Humane’ bill for refugees await approval

Sixty-one migrants drown to death after their boat sank in the Aegean. DHA photo

After the death of 61 migrants who drowned in the Aegean while trying to reach Europe sent shock waves to Turkey, a law that will bring drastic changes to the treatment of asylum seekers, refugees, and irregular migrants is waiting to be endorsed in Parliament’s General Assembly. With the draft law, Turkey will commit itself to treating asylum seekers and irregular migrants according to international norms.

The law sets forth the rules and procedures on the status of foreigners and on international protection, which addresses the issues of asylum seekers and irregular migrants. The draft articles regarding international protection are directly based on European Union laws, U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) guidelines, and Council of Europe norms. As such, legislation in this field will be harmonized with EU law, with refugees and irregular migrants to be sheltered and sent back to third countries in conditions that conform to human honor.

The mistreatment of refugees, as well as the detention of irregular migrants and victims of human trafficking, has been strongly criticized by human rights advocates in Turkey.

International protection

One of the most important changes brought about by the new law will be the creation of a separate bureaucracy that will deal with the issue of international protection. Until now, irregular migrants were dealt by police forces.Endorsed unanimously by both the government and the opposition parties in the parliamentary sub committee, it took several years for Interior and Foreign Ministry bureaucrats to pen the draft law. “The drafters made sure to not ignore the human rights aspect of the issue and tried to strike a healthy balance between security and human rights,” an expert who took part in preparation of the law told the Daily News.

Migrant tragedies continue

Tuba Parlak- ISTANBUL

Hours after 61 migrants trying to reach Europe were tragically drowned when their boat capsized off the Aegean town of Menderes on Sept. 6, some 36 other migrants were saved at the last moment in the northwestern province of Çanakkale after their boat capsized due to engine failure.
The migrants were of Maltese, South African, Iranian and Burmese origin, one was a child and three of them were women. They were trying to reach the Greek island of Lesbos on a boat, Anatolia news agency reported.

Meanwhile, 70 migrants were discovered by Turkish authorities on the Küdür peninsula in the southern province of Muğla, Doğan News Agency reported.

Migrants from Asia and Africa have long sought to reach Europe by passing through Turkey, and their desperate efforts have occasionally ended in disaster. Each year, thousands try to sail to Greek islands from Turkish soil in rickety boats. “These migrants know that they cannot hope to acquire refugee status in Turkey, because Turkey rejects granting that status to migrants not coming from EU countries. The second reason is that they have false illusions about the status of the refugee camps in Greece. They believe the conditions there are much better there than in Turkey, but the truth is quite contrary,” said Veysel Eşsiz from Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly’s Turkey office. Eşsiz said the total number of asylum seekers in Turkey was currently more than 26,000, including those who have been granted refugee status.

Meanwhile, related to the drowning of the 61 migrants, six people - including two Turkish crew members – have been detained by the authorities for crimes of human trafficking.