19 February 2016

ECRE Member, Refugee Rights Turkey, has published a paper on the barriers refugees in Turkey face accessing their right to an effective legal remedy, due to the complex arrangements for granting power of attorney.

In Turkish law, a lawyer must obtain a notarised power of attorney in order to be someone’s representative.  Notaries will only grant it if they can establish the applicant’s identity either by an official identification document or by witness statement. However, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants face considerable difficulties with these requirements which make legal safeguards in Turkey’s new Law on Foreigners and International Protection largely ineffective.   

Individuals who are stopped for irregular entry or exit from Turkey are often detained and undergo accelerated asylum procedures. They should be issued with an international protection registration document with their identity details, but in a number of cases this has not happened and applicants have been issued with rejection letters and deportation orders. Without the registration document they are unable to obtain a power of attorney, and are therefore unable to be represented by a lawyer to challenge these decisions before administrative courts.

In addition, certain identity documents issued under the new asylum law are only valid within the province where they are issued, which means it is not possible to get a power of attorney if the person is apprehended in another province. Syrian nationals and stateless persons from Syria are issued with a ‘temporary protection identity document’ or a ‘foreigner identity document’ but these are not always recognised as official documents by notaries and can refuse to grant power of attorney based on these.

Refugee Rights Turkey calls on the authorities to make a number of changes in order to guarantee refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants access to a legal remedy. 

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 19 February 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.