Amnesty calls on Turkey to overhaul asylum procedures

Media Type: Text  Amnesty calls on Turkey to overhaul asylum procedures  Ankara - Human rights group Amnesty International in a report published Wednesday called on Turkey to completely overhaul its asylum procedures to bring them in line with international norms,

Asylum seekers were often denied their rights and many were forcibly returned to their country where they were at risk of serious human rights abuses, the non-governmental organization said.

"Amnesty International is concerned that persons in need of international protection in Turkey are prevented from accessing their internationally recognized rights due to Turkish asylum regulations that do not conform to international standards and which are unfairly and arbitrarily applied," according to the Amnesty report.

Amnesty also called on Turkey to lift its geographical restrictions on who may apply for asylum, saying that restricting the right only to Europeans created high barriers to those fleeing persecution.

Every year, thousands of people from countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Somalia enter Turkey, the vast majority illegally, many seeking to cross into EU countries Greece or Bulgaria.

The Amnesty report documented a number of cases where people were denied the right to apply for asylum, were detained for lengthy periods after applying for asylum or were forcibly returned to their country of origin.

"Amnesty International is calling on the Turkish authorities to legislate for and implement a fair and satisfactory national asylum procedure, and to respect the rights of asylum seekers, refugees and others in need of international protection," the report said. (dpa)