Human rights experts concerned over delay of legislation on immigrants
The government's plans to bring the bill on Foreigners and International Protection to Parliament after the conclusion of talks on the 2013 budget have worried human rights experts.

Current legislation in Turkey regarding the protection of the rights of foreigners who come to Turkey for a period of time as well as those of immigrants is outdated and does not meet the needs of the day. The bill, if passed, will establish the General Directorate of Migration.

Volkan Görendağ, Amnesty International Turkey's refugee coordinator, told Today's Zaman that their biggest concern about the bill is the fact that the government has a weak determination to bring it to Parliament's agenda.

Noting that Turkey is a transit country, Görendağ said although Turkey has experienced serious problems concerning immigration routes since the establishment of the republic, it is difficult to understand why the country has so far failed to come up with the necessary legislation to tackle the issue.

"If the bill is not enacted before the conclusion of talks on the 2013 budget, its implantation will be delayed until 2014. This will create a problem for Turkey in risky regions. We have to note that the people coming from Syria to Turkey now [with the aim to seek refuge] and those staying in refugee camps established [along the border] have no legal status," he explained.

The main items regulating the legal status of refugees in international law are the Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, which was signed in 1967. Although Turkey signed the Refugee Convention in 1951, it has adopted the New York Protocol with a geographical limitation that only offers refugee status to persons coming from Europe.

Oktay Durukan, of the Helsinki Citizen's Assembly's refugee program, told Today's Zaman that the bill on foreigners and immigrants is of crucial importance for Turkey as the country has over the past years become a destination country for migrants.

He said apart from mass migration, more than 40,000 irregular migrants came to Turkey in 2011 alone.

"Looking at the figures, we see that many people immigrate to Turkey while many others use it as a transit country to go to Europe. The lack of legislation to deal with immigrants creates a serious problem for Turkey," he said.

(Cihan/Today's Zaman) CİHAN
Last Modified: 2012-11-07 18:00:06
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