Turkey Routinely Pushing Back Thousands of Afghans At Iran Border, Says HRW

Friday, 11/18/2022

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a statement on Friday said that Turkey is routinely pushing tens of thousands of Afghans back at its land border with Iran or deporting them directly to Afghanistan with little or no examination of their claims for international protection.

HRW in its report also stated that Afghans facing imminent deportation are often given no opportunity to make refugee claims. The rights organisation urged Turkey to immediately halt pushbacks of Afghans from its borders and give all Afghans facing removal the opportunity to make refugee claims

The report claimed that HRW had written to the Turkish authorities on October 18 seeking a response to the alleged pushbacks and deportations. “The Presidency of Migration Management in Turkey’s Interior Ministry reported 238,448 “irregular migrants whose entrance to our country has been prevented” in 2022, most of them Afghans. Turkey reported deporting 44,768 Afghans by air to Kabul in the first eight months of 2022, a 150 percent increase over the first eight months of 2021,” the report stated.

“Although Turkey has rightly earned international acclaim and support for hosting the largest number of refugees of any country in the world, it is simultaneously pushing many Afghans back at its borders or deporting them to Afghanistan with little or no examination of their claims for international protection,” said Bill Frelick, refugee and migrant rights director at Human Rights Watch.

Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees of any country in the world, an estimated 3.9 million people, 3.6 million Syrians with temporary protection and 320,000 others, mostly Afghans.

Since taking power, the Taliban have imposed severe restrictions across Afghanistan, carried out revenge killings and enforced disappearances of former government officials and security force personnel, detained and beaten journalists, summarily executed alleged Islamic State fighters, and failed to protect groups targeted for attack by the Islamic State, such as ethnic Hazaras.

HRW stated that pushbacks violate multiple human rights norms, including the prohibition of collective expulsion under the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to due process in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the principle of nonrefoulement under the 1951 Refugee Convention, which prohibits the return of refugees to places where their lives or freedom would be threatened.

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