Dutch investigating Turkey’s treatment of Syrian asylum seekers

Bert Koenders (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commons)Bert Koenders (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commons)

Minister Bert Koenders of Foreign Affairs will seriously investigate a report by Amnesty International which states that Turkey deports hundreds of asylum seekers back to Syria on a daily basis, ANP reports. 

Amnesty investigators spent three days last week collecting testimony in the southern provinces of Turkey, which border Syria. They got hundreds of statements that asylum seekers are being sent back to Syria. According to the human rights organization, it is an open secret that large-scale evictions are taking place in the province of Hatay. And forced evictions to Syria are illegal under Turkish, European and International law.

Amnesty International recommends that the EU cancels the agreements made with Turkey in an effort to stem the flow of asylum seekers immediately. Agreements that Prime Minister Mark Rutte advocated and negotiated for only two weeks ago. Part of the agreement is that the EU can send asylum seekers making the crossing to Europe on their own back to Turkey.

"Overall Turkey is very hospitable to asylum seekers. That does not mean that it is not a serious report, and we will look into it", Koenders said to news wire on Friday. He emphasized that he has no evidence that Turkey is actually deporting asylum seekers, but reminds the Turks to keep to the agreements. "Part of this agreement is that Turkey complies with international obligations."

The agreement with Turkey takes effect on Monday.

PvdA leader Diederik Samsom feels that the report is reason to abandon the deal, even though he himself was heavily involved in formulating the plan to ship asylum seekers following illegal routes back to Turkey. The plan was actually called the Samsom-plan. He now states that what Amnesty wrote in their report "is contrary to everything we stand for", he said to ANP

GroenLinks, D66 and ChristenUnie also want the agreements reversed. According to them, the report confirms that asylum seekers are not safe in Turkey.


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