Murat Bakan, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), submitted his fourth parliamentary question regarding claims of abuse and mistreatment at a repatriation center in Turkey’s İzmir province, the Duvar news website reported.
Bakan said the Interior Ministry did not provide satisfactory answers to his three previous parliamentary questions. “Allegations of abuse in the repatriation center were not investigated, and there isn’t sufficient supervision over the center,” he added.
According to Bakan, abuse of asylum seekers is a human rights violation and the allegations should be taken seriously.
Ali Derman Güler of the İzmir Bar Association’s migration and asylum committee said the center had been turned into a prison and urged authorities to allow independent rights associations to monitor it. “We have petitioned several times to investigate the abuse claims but were turned down,” he said.
According to Güler asylum seekers are not allowed to leave the center and cannot even use the grounds. They are often locked in the building and complain about poor quality and insufficient food.
Ahmed Maslem, a 21-year-old Syrian refugee, died in a fire that broke out at the center last month. The center was criticized for inadequate safety measures.
A Senegalese woman identified as A.M.M. Ndong was allegedly beaten in the same center.
The incident was raised in parliament by Serpil Kemalbay from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). Two refugees, one Syrian and the other Palestinian, were also severely beaten by guards in May.
In his fourth parliamentary question Bakan asked authorities to investigate these incidents and determine if the center’s administration was at fault.
Turkish authorities increased security in repatriation centers in 2017 by adding razor wire fences reaching up to five meters. According to a report by the Gazete Karınca news website, refugees are completely isolated from society in these centers and live in poor conditions for months and sometimes years.
Bedia Özgökçe Ertan, a former HDP deputy, had criticized the government’s decision to increase security at the centers, saying it would be harder to monitor how refugees were being treated.
“International organizations have reported that there are numerous cases of torture and ill-treatment in repatriation centers,” she said. ”There is legislation that stipulates how people are to be kept under temporary supervision. Thus, it is expected that these people have access to regular healthcare and to be monitored in accordance with human dignity.”
According to a report published by the Swiss-based Global Detention Project, international observers have repeatedly criticized conditions in Turkish repatriation facilities. Observers have highlighted overcrowding and a lack of medical care and access to lawyers and civil society groups and that minors were held with adults.
The report also said if refugees opposed certain regulations and practices in the centers, they were often mistreated and beaten by security officers.