Turkey’s top court rules against deportation of Syrian refugee for drunk driving

The Constitutional Court of Turkey

The Constitutional Court has found a decision to deport a Syrian migrant for drunk driving to be in violation of his rights, carrying a serious risk of persecution, the Gazete Duvar news website reported.

Hüsam İbrahim was allegedly caught while intoxicated at a traffic checkpoint in İstanbul in October 2019.

The governor’s office subsequently launched deportation proceedings against him for jeopardizing traffic safety, and a local administrative court ruled in favor of İbrahim’s deportation, a decision he appealed.

The top court in its decision said the administrative court and the authorities failed to demonstrate how the applicant was not covered by non-refoulement, a legal principle that rules out returning refugees to places where they have reason to fear persecution.

The court also said in cases of deportation, the authorities are required to assess the risk of mistreatment in light of concrete data and evidence, pointing out that Syria is still suffering from internal instability and a documented mistreatment by regime forces of returning Syrians presumed to be dissidents.

Müslüm Yıldız, a lawyer for İbrahim, said judicial authorities overseeing cases of migrants have started to act under the influence of the prevailing anti-migrant sentiment in the country.

“Migrants held at repatriation centers and subjected to coercion can sometimes choose to return voluntarily,” Yıldız said. “In the past, they used to hold migrants at repatriation centers for a few weeks or a month. Now they prolong it for intimidation.”

Since 2012 Turkey has accepted more than 3 million Syrians fleeing the war-torn neighboring country. Due to a geographical limitation Turkey previously imposed on the Geneva Convention on refugees, the Syrians are not granted refugee status and are instead placed under a status called “temporary protection.”

In recent years the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been faced with increasing public hostility against migrants, including in parts of its voter base.

Fueled by segments of the opposition, the anti-migrant sentiment has been exacerbated by the downturn in the economy and has led to numerous incidents of apparent hate crime, which resulted in deaths and injuries.

Some NGO reports have alleged torture and mistreatment in repatriation centers, aimed at coercing migrants into signing voluntary return documents.

Take a second to support Stockholm Center for Freedom on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!