The Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees was approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 1950. It was signed on 28 July 1951 and enforced on 22 April 1954. Seven years later, on 29 August 1961, the Geneva Convention was approved by Turkey under Law No. 359.
Amnesty International Turkey issued a statement on their website on Friday (29 July) and called on the Turkish government to apply the Geneva Convention "without restrictions".
The international treaty initially defined the status of refugees on conditions of "the incidents that happened in Europe before 1951". However, in 1967, this limitation was lifted in 1967 with the Protocol on the Legal Status of Refugees. Turkey approved this amendment in 1968 but only under the condition of "geographical boundaries". Turkey is currently the only country that effectively implements a difference between European and non-European refugees.
Amnesty International Turkey explained in their statement, "Turkey can provide refugee status to citizens of member states of the Council of Europe only. Turkey recognizes 'temporary asylum' for people coming from countries that are not members of the Council of Europe".
The statement continued, "Until now, Turkey accepted a total of 43 people as refugees, i.e. 27 people from Greece, six from Bulgaria, six from Serbia-Montenegro, three from Azerbaijan and one citizen from Albania. Thousands of people from many countries that are not member states of the European Commission are forced to seek asylum in Turkey ever year, most of all people from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia. Because of the geographical restriction of the treaty, Turkey issues temporary residence permits to citizens from non-European countries. The country then tries to relocate these people in states that accept refugees on behalf of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees such as the USA, Canada or Austria".
"Immediate compliance with international standards..."
Amnesty International Turkey drew attention to the report issued by Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, on 28 June 2009. The report claimed that "Turkey's geographical restriction must be lifted as soon as possible. The definitions of asylum seekers and refugees must be brought in compliance with international standards immediately".
Moreover, the Parliamentary Human Rights Investigation Commission stated in their report issued in July 2010 that the geographical restriction applied by Turkey lacked any reason and should be lifted. (MAF/ŞA/VK)