13 May 2016

Human Rights Watch published this week a damning article documenting violence at the Syrian-Turkish border: according to the organisation, in March and April 2016 Turkish border guards violently attempted to stop Syrians from entering the country, beating them and shooting at them. The violence resulted in at least five people killed and fourteen seriously injured. Furthermore, push-backs at the border have been documented since at least August 2015, in a blatant violation of the non-refoulement principle.

These findings seriously contradict Turkey’s officially stated “open border” policy for Syrians. The country has moreover completed the construction of a rocket-resistant concrete wall along 911 kilometres of its border with Syria, making its territory ever more difficult to access. The Syrian-Turkish border is an increasingly dangerous area, and as recently as last week, a refugee camp near the border was bombed in an airstrike allegedly perpetrated by Syrian government forces, leaving more than 20 people dead.

At the same time, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein issued a statement this week condemning the actions of the Turkish security forces in the south-east area of the country, where hundreds are reported dead and many more injured in anti-terrorist operations. The Turkish government has also denied access to these areas to UN human rights monitors.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 13 May 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.