Turkish prosecutors issue fake arrest warrants for fraudulent asylum applications: Swiss media

Turkish nationals have been granted asylum in Switzerland by presenting fake arrest warrants issued by Turkish prosecutors, Turkish Minute reported, citing Swiss media reports.

The scheme, which was uncovered through Swiss authorities’ investigations into asylum applications, involves a network of middlemen that includes lawyers and prosecutors in Turkey who take bribes to issue fake arrest warrants to make it appear that applicants are persecuted political activists or members of banned organizations such as the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

According to the reports, this fraudulent scheme has been going on for several years. Many Turkish asylum seekers pay thousands of francs (1 Swiss Franc=1.14 USD) to obtain these fake legal documents.

The arrest warrants are then used to support their asylum applications in Switzerland. This exploits a loophole in the Swiss asylum system, which does not allow the details of foreign arrest warrants to be checked.

The Swiss State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) has reportedly admitted that it is aware of the manipulation of asylum applications using these fake documents.

This situation has led to a significant drop in the recognition rate for Turkish asylum seekers in recent years. While the recognition rate was still over 86 percent in 2021, it has since fallen to around 50.3 percent.

SEM has stated that it has withdrawn asylum status from a number of people after the fraudulent nature of their applications was discovered. However, the exact number of asylum seekers who have obtained refugee status in Switzerland through this scheme is unclear.

The scandal has sparked a debate about the integrity of the asylum process and the difficulties European countries face in distinguishing between legitimate refugees and those attempting to manipulate the system.

The Swiss authorities have indicated that they are taking steps to tighten the procedure for examining asylum applications in order to prevent such abuses in the future.

The practice brought to light the deep-seated corruption within Turkey’s judiciary.

Last year, İsmail Uçar, the then-İstanbul chief public prosecutor, sent a letter  to the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) exposing corruption in the country’s judicial system.

Turkey’s judiciary was already criticized by international bodies and rights groups for taking orders from the executive branch prior to the allegations of corruption.

Turkey disbarred more than 4,000 judges and prosecutors immediately after an abortive coup in July 2016 over alleged ties to the faith-based Gülen movement, which it accused of orchestrating the attempted putsch. The movement denies any involvement.

The mass disbarment of members of the judiciary is believed by many to have had a chilling effect on the entire justice system, intimidating the remaining judges and prosecutors into doing the government’s bidding by launching politically motivated investigations into critics.

Turkey was ranked 117th among 142 countries in the rule of law index published by the World Justice Project (WJP) in October, in a sign of the deteriorating rule of law in the country.

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