Deporting anyone to Syria violates the international law principle of non-refoulement, as it puts them at risk of serious human rights violations. For those who manage to re-enter Turkey, they find that their Turkish identification documents have been cancelled. Syrians without valid identification documents are unable to access essential services and are at heightened risk of deportation.
This report is based on desk and field research carried out between July and October 2019. For the deskbased component, researchers consulted Turkish language media and civil society reports, documents and statistics published by the Turkish authorities, as well as UN and EU reports, international NGO reports, Syrian and Turkish NGO sources, academic studies and international media sources. For the field research, Amnesty International researchers travelled to Hatay and Istanbul provinces in July 2019 and returned to Istanbul in October 2019.
This report documents 20 cases of unlawful forced returns, which occurred between 25 May and 13 September 2019, with most (14) happening in July 2019. These are detailed cases that are illustrative of a much larger issue. Without official statistics it is difficult to estimate the number of deportations, but over the past few months the figure is likely to be in the hundreds. Of the 20 cases documented in this report, people who were deported said that there were several dozen others (between 35 and 60) on each of their buses, which represents an illustrative sample of several hundred people. Amnesty was unable to verify the circumstances of each of the other bus passengers, but the journeys present several elements strongly suggesting coercion, including all passengers being handcuffed with plastic ties, as well as ill-treatment by the armed Gendarmerie accompanying them.