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Home arrow In Brief arrow CoE asks Turkey Free Movement + International Access +Protection for Syrian Refugees closed in Camps

CoE asks Turkey Free Movement + International Access +Protection for Syrian Refugees closed in Camps

Written by ACM
Tuesday, 24 January 2012

 

pace_turkish_syrian_borders__camp_400


A CoE Resolution, after a Goup of MEPs' visit on the spot, asked Turkey to "offer" Syrian Refugees,  currently closed in Turkish Camps, "Freedom of Movement", and to open them "Access to International (i.e. UNO, Red Cross/Crescent, etc.) protection", as well as "Information on their Rights", while also "grant(ing) International Organisations and NGOs .... regular Access in Refugee Camps", and "allow(ing) the Media to ...Contact .. the Refugees".


CoE's Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population, recently endorsed and declassified the Report of an inter-party CoE Assembly Delegation on its earlier, 2011 visit to Antakya (Turkey) :


------------------------------------------
CoE: Turkish "Camps not ...open to International observers" -----------------------------------------------------


 - "Almost None has been given Permission to Enter" the Turkish Camps, "although a number of National and International Delegations have .. gone Near to the Refugee Camps", including "Representatives of Political Parties and of Diplomatic Missions   , Journalists, a delegation from the World Healh Organisation, representatives of NGO, and (even) MEPs from CoE's competent Committe" : Turkish "Authorities .... Refused all the Delegations' , the Report denounced from the outset.


- MEPs, "Members of the .. (competent).. Committee ...however, would have liked to have been able to go Inside to see for themselves the Refugees' material Living Conditions, as well as to feel the Atmosphere and Speak Freely with a great number of Syrians". Instead of meeting only, Outside of the Camps, just a few Refugees, pre-selected and brought out guarded by the Turkish Authorities, on the contrary, CoE's "Delegation woule have liked to have seen for itself what .. (Turkish) Refugee Camps (for Syrians) looked like", the  Report (drafted by Representatives of all 5 Political Groups) criticizes for these unprecedented incidents.


=> Thus, all "the Members of the (competent, CoE's) Committee are at a loss to understand the (Turkish Authorities') Refusal to let them enter" the Syrian Refugees' Camps at the Turkish borders, they complained.


>>> In conclusion, "the (CoE's inter-Party) Delegation recommends .. the Turkish Authorities to grant Full Access to the Camps to CoE Delegations, in order to do heir Fact-Finding and Monitoring activities, as effective as possible".


------------------------------
Return Mystery
-----------------------------------------
=> In these circumstances, it remains a Mystery why, from some 20.000 Syrian Refugees initially registered in the Turkish Camps, much more than the Half (about 12.000) had already prefered to Return back in Syria, leaving on the spot only about of One Third (some 7.000) :


 - Therefore, "the (CoE's) Committee's Members asked the (Turkish) Authorities ... about the Reasons for, and the Circumstances of these Returns".


- But, "the (Turkish) AUthorities explained .. that they were Ignorant of the Motives for, and the Circumstances of Returns" of Syrian Refugees who massively left the closed Turkish Camps. "The (Turkish) Authorities had (not even) asked the Syrians .. why they are Leaving", as the Turks claimed.


According to  certain reports by Syrian Refugees, "some (among those who left).. had also Disappeared". Others "alleged that thye Syrian Authorities were putting Pressure.. to return", (etc).
                                                                                                                       

At least in one, high-note case, that of former dissident Syrian Colonel Hussein Harmoush, who was last seen at a Refugee Camp in Tukey at the end of August 2011, it was reported, by mainstream Media s (f.ex. "The Guardian", etc), that he was kidnapped by Turkish Services after a meeting with them, and "smuggled" to Syria, in exchange of 6 Kurdish Workers Party members, and because Turkey would intervene inside the Syrian Opposition to diminish Kurds' role, (probably afraid of eventual developments similar to that of Iraq, where Kurds administrate alone an Oil/gas rich region). Additional data from other International Media reported that Syrian dissidents booed Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, during a recent visit to Egypt, asking him what really happened to Harmoush, but without getting any answer from Erdogan..


     (../..)


+ Moreover, in general, "Access to Asylum procedure is a Thorny issue" in Turkey, critically obsereves CoE's Report.


- "Members of the (competent CoE's) Committee had to raise this Question several Times (to the Turkish Authorities), before obtaining any Answers, which were ... Unsatisfactory in any case", it denounces.


- Probably because of the fact that "Turkey is the only CoE's member State to have maintained a GeoGraphical Limitation concerning the application of the 1951 (International) Convention relating to the Status of Refugees", according to which, all "Persons coming from Outside of Europe canNot be recognized as Refugees by Turkey" ! Therefore, even its neighbours, "Syrians, canNot be considered to ve Refugees in Turkey".


=> CoE's "Parliamentary Assembly has frequently called upon Turkey to Lift this Limitation, which Blocks Access to International Protection", the Report reveals.


- Therefore, "Turkey should lift, asap, its geographical Limitation on the 1951 (International) Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, that is preventing Non-Europeans from obtaining this Status", CoE's 2011 Report concludes.


+ Meanwhile, several Photographs from the International Press, have already shown that many Syrian oppenents, who had left their Homes, hesitated to enter Turkish Camps, prefering to stay at a free and open, countryside area, probably given the Lack of due Legal Protection (see supra) and the  fact that Turkish Camps close Refugees, packed in Promiscuity at a narrow area, surrounded by Barbed Wires and/or other blockades, and heavily guarded by Turkish Army patrols, hindering free movement and contacts. (See supra + PHOTOS).


------------------------
=> CoE's Resolution
--------------------------------


For these, and more reasons, CoE's Assembly endorsed and published its Migration, Refugees and Population Committee's delegation's (representing all CoE's political Groups) Resolution on "Syrian Refugees on the Turkish borders", which, inter alia, "calls on the Turkish Authorities", mainly, "to" :


- "grant International Organizations and NGOs .. regular Access in Refugee Camps, in the province of Hatay, in the interests of Transparecy, and (to) allow the Media to have Contact with the Refugees".


- "provide Refugees with adequate Information on their Rights, and guarantee them Access to International Protection and Asylum procedures, .. in close cooperation with the UNHCR".


- "'offer ... Freedom of Movement" to Syrian Refugees "who cannot, or do not wish to, return to Syria".


 - "maintain .... the Borders open", while, on the contrary, it's enough to have a look at a Map of the area in order to see that Turkey apparently has some openings only at a comparatively small area in the West, near the Sea, while apparently still keeping closed, without any Refugee camp, its longer borders separating the Kurdish regions of Syria from the Kurdish population regions in Turkey, at the Eastern side.


(../..)

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(NDLR : "DraftNews", as already sent earlier to "EuroFora"s Subscribers/Donors. A more accurate and complete, Final Version may be published asap).

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ECHR's President to "EuroFora" on Journalists Gongadze and Adali murders : Principles must apply to all States, without discrimination.


+ ECHR's Statistics on Freedom of Expression (See below).


 European Court of Human Rights' President, Jean-Paul Costa, questioned by "EuroFora" on Journalists' murders, as in Gongadze and Adali's cases etc., strongly stressed all CoE Member States' obligation to make efficient Investigations to find and punish those responsible, and underlined that ECHR's case-law's principles must apply to all without any discrimination.

His call was clearly supported by various Top MEPs who denounced a risk of "Double Standards" if some Journalists' murders are investigated, while others don't.

To avoid such risks, CoE's Parliamentary Assembly adopted a Resolution, on the occasion of Ukranian Journalist Gongadze's murder, "stressing", as a matter of general Principle, "the importance it attaches to the safety of Journalists and political activists, especially those linked to opposition groups, in ALL member states of the CoE". All "crimes against journalists and political activists must be investigated ... as a matter of priority, without political interference".

Costa was replying to "EuroFora"s question on the fact that, after CoE's Committee of Ministers, also CoE's Assembly had just adopted a Resolution on Gongadze murder case, based on an ECHR's judgement of 2005, asking a full Investigation from Ukraine, who has found and condemned  in 10 years of jail 2 executants, but not yet the instigators.

While nothing similar was yet done for dissident Turkish Cypriot Kutlu Adali's murder, with 5 bullets shot at his head out of his Family's home in the territories of Cyprus occupied by Ankara's army, despite another ECHR's judgement of the same year 2005, and despite Turkey's claim that nobody was found among those responsible for the murder, and that there was nothing more to do..

In order to be credible and efficient, CoE's mechanisms shouldn't find a way to at least ask for full investigations of all Journalists' murders anywhere they might be committed, without exceptions ?

adali_gongadze


- "On the larger question that you raised, I'd like to say, since we are in a period of stock-taking on ECHR's 50 Years, that the Court's case-law developed certain concepts ....such as the Positive obligations of States, part of which are also the procedural obligations", started to reply ECHR's President.

 - "Whenever Journalists, Lawyers, Defenders of Human Rights, or even simple Citizens are murdered, the States are held responsible, not only if its their own security forces' agents who committed these murders, but also if they didn't make sufficiently substantial and efficient Investigations", he stressed.

- "I want to strongly underline that we (ECHR) have found in many cases numerous violations of Articles 2 and 3 against States, ....(about) murders or torture, ...because they didn't make enough Investigations in order to try to find and punish those responsible".

- "We (ECHR) do that vis-a-vis all 47 (CoE) Member States, without any discrimination".

"Naturally, the circumstances in each particular case may be differend, and we can't ommit to apply the rules of proof, or the rules of criminal procedure".

"But we try, by all means, to apply these principles of our case-law, to all States", he concluded.

imag0335_400


      Costa's call was strongly supported by several Top CoE MEPs, from various Political areas


- "To investigate the murder of one Journalist, and not of another, looks like Double Standards", denounced the President of EuroLeft Group in CoE's Assembly, Dutch MEP Tiny Cox.  

- "What is the reason ? Politics or specificity of a case ? Of course, if Cyprus and Turkey are involved, it's always a Political case"..

- "Murders of Journalists should always be fully investigated, because killing Journalists is not only killing persons, but also killing Free Press".  "We (CoE's Assembly) should do our outmost to help People who are working on Free Press and they are under threat or murdered".

Because for Free Politics, Free Press is a pre-requisitive : Parliamentarians  cannot  function without a Free Press. Not investigating, is not protecting ourselves".

So we should investigate all Journalists' murders : We are talking about Gongadze, about the Cypriot man (Adali), about the Journalist murdered in Moscow one week ago, etc", Cox concluded

- "CoE can' look at these cases differently. CoE can't wear Blinckers  !".
- "If the one is investigated, so has to be also the other. Why there wasn't full investigation ? Why's that ?", wondered British  Socialist MEP, Alan Meale.

- "A good idea" would be to "make a Motion for Resolution", and "join all Journalists' murders. Adali and Gongadze etc", said to "EuroFora" EU Parliament Political affairs Committee's President, Goran Lindbland, ChristianDemocrat MEP from Sweden.


(See also earlier News at "EuroFora" on similar issues).
-------------------------------

ECHR's Statistics on Freedom of Expression :


    Almost Half of condemnations by ECHR for violations of Freedom of Expression in 2008, concern Turkey : 20 out of a total of 48 for all CoE's Member States.

    Russia, Poland, France and Moldova were condemned only 3 times. Romania, Greece, Portugal, 2 times, and the other CoE Member States only 1 time, or none.
--------------------
    During the last Decade : 1998 - 2008, Turkey was condemned for violating Freedom of Expression in ..169 cases, while Austria only in 24.

    France and Moldova in 14 and 13, respectively, closely followed by Russia and Poland with 11 and 10, respectively. The rest of CoE Member States had less than ten condemnations.    
    

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