Country of Origin Information Report


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30 Exit/entry procedures
30.01 The Consulate General for the Republic of Turkey in London, gives information; visa applications, consular matters, useful addresses and general information about Turkey. [31]
30.02 The EC 2007 Progress report also recorded that Turkey has not started negotiations on a visa facilitation agreement. [71c] (p5)
30.03 The EC 2007 Progress report also stated that “Some progress was made on visa policy. Further alignment with the acquis has been achieved by the introduction of new visa instructions used by both consular and border officials. Italy was included in the EU positive list. For alignment with EU visa lists, eight countries remain to be included in the positive list. Pursuing the efforts in aligning with the negative list remains a key issue. Lifting visa obligations for Azerbaijan, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan is not in line with the acquis.” [71c] (p64)

30.04 The EC 2007 report further noted that “Steps are needed to introduce airport transit visas and to abolish the practice of issuing visas at borders. Turkey continues to require nationals of 35 countries to apply for visas at the borders, including citizens of 17 Member States. The capacity of Turkish consulates needs to be further enhanced to check for forged and falsified documents. Turkey needs to pursue its efforts to align with EU security features and standards for visas and travel documents.” [71c] (p64)

30.05 Radio Free Europe stated in an article published 31 July 2007 ‘Turkey Lifts Visa Requirement for Post-Soviet States’ that “Ankara has unilaterally abolished short-term visas for citizens of the four former Soviet republics as well as Mongolia starting on August 1. According to the decree, holders of passports from Azerbaijan, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 30 days… Turkey has had a visa-free regime with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan along with Georgia have also enjoyed visa-free relations with Turkey.” [41]
Treatment of returned failed asylum seekers
30.06 The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2002 report states that “There are no indications that Turkish nationals are persecuted in Turkey purely because they applied for asylum abroad. The Turkish authorities are aware that many citizens leave the country for economic reasons and apply for asylum elsewhere. However, people who have engaged in activities abroad which the Turkish authorities regard as separatist are at risk of persecution if the Turkish authorities find out.” [2a] (p144)

30.07 According to the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs Official General report on Turkey published in January 2003, “In the removal of refused Turkish-Kurdish asylum seekers to Turkey it is true that they are checked on return in the same way as other Turkish subjects. It is checked whether there are criminal judgements or that there is a criminal investigation by the Jandarma against the person concerned. Those refusing to do military service and deserters are [also] recorded at the border posts.” [2c] (p102)

30.08 The Netherlands 2003 Official General report continued “The Turkish border authorities shall mostly question the person concerned if one of these facts is established, in the case of incorrect border crossing documents, an earlier illegal exit from Turkey or removal from abroad. The questioning takes place at the police station of the airport and mostly involves:
 establishment or checking personal details,

 reasons and period of exit from Turkey,

 reason for the asylum application,

 reasons for any refusal of the asylum application,

 any criminal record and past record at home and abroad including drug offences,

 possible contact with illegal organisations abroad.

However, if there are no suspicions, as a rule after an average of six to nine hours they are released.” [2c] (p102)
30.09 The Netherlands report 2003 further stated:
“If it appears that the person concerned is a suspect for punishable acts, they are transferred to the [appropriate authority] concerned. In Istanbul this is in most cases the Police Headquarters in the Bakırköy district located not far from the airport. Persons who are suspected of membership of the PKK/KADEK, left-wing radical organisations such as the DHKP/C or TKP/ML, militant Islamic organisations, or persons suspected of providing support or shelter to one of those organisations are transferred to the Anti-Terrorist unit of the police, which is housed in the same headquarters.” [2c] (p102-103)

30.10 Turkish citizens who are without passports are returned on one-way emergency travel documents, which are issued by the Turkish Consul General in London. In a letter to the Home Office dated 11 January 2006 the Turkish Consulate General in London noted:

“A Turkish national who wishes to obtain an Emergency Travel Document from the Turkish Consulate General in London should meet the following requirements: 1. He/she must be a Turkish national; 2. He/she must apply in person to the Consulate General so that the applicant can be interviewed; 3. He/she should submit the following documents:

 Any identity document issued by official Turkish authorities (Nufus card, driving licence etc).

 A flight ticket (or reservation);

 Two photos;

If the applicant does not possess any official document of identity, he/she is required to provide his/her identity details during the interview at the Consulate. The purpose of the interview is to ascertain that people who apply for Emergency Travel Documents are indeed Turkish citizens. The Turkish Consulate would not refuse to issue an Emergency Travel Document to a Turkish National under any circumstances. [An] Emergency Travel Document is issued without delay if the Consulate is satisfied that the applicant is a Turkish national. The application is referred to the relevant authority in Turkey for approval – i.e. the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Turkey if the Consulate is not satisfied that the applicant holds Turkish nationality. Passports checking at borders, ports and airports are carried out by security officers. People returning to Turkey on an Emergency Travel Document go through the same procedure as anyone returning there on a standard passport. There is only one type of Emergency Travel Document in use. However, Turkish nationals travelling with Emergency Travel Documents will be interviewed by security officials on their arrivals to Turkey.” [31a]
The problem of falsified documents

30.11 The Norwegian Country of Origin Information Centre ‘Report of fact-finding mission to Turkey (7-17 October 2004)’ noted that:

“The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration has repeatedly been presented so-called documents ‘proving’ that an asylum-seeker was wanted by the Turkish authorities. Some of these documents were – according to the applicant – issued either by the Gendarmerie/Police or by the Ministry of Justice. All lawyers I asked about this invalidated the possible authenticity of such documents. Neither law enforcement authorities nor any other Turkish official were entitled to issue such a confirmation. Neither detention-orders, nor warrants were handed out to the suspect or any other third person before the suspect was detained. Both Mr. Islambay and Mr. Demirtaş claimed, however, that it was widely known that such (and other) ‘documents’ could be attained through bribery. Tanrikulu and Demirtaş mentioned that two court ushers from the former State Security Court in Diyarbakir had been arrested in the summer of 2004 and had been charged with corruption for selling fake documents. Such cases could be found all over the country and the two officials from Diyarbakýr where only the tip of the iceberg. Demirtaş and Islambay further mentioned that the problem of corruption was widespread and that this also applied to lawyers. One person working at a lawyers’ office told me that they repeatedly had declined requests to produce fake documentary evidence, ‘sufficient’ for asylum applications. One lawyer stated that he had repeatedly rejected offers from Turkish citizens already staying in Western Europe, who offered him between 5,000 and 10,000 Euro for a complete ‘asylum-file’. The same lawyer told me that it was considered ‘easy’ to get fake documents in Turkey and assumed that ‘most of the documents presented to European Migration authorities are fake’.” [16] (p24-25)
30.12 The Norwegian report continued:

“One lawyer stressed that it might prove difficult and unreliable to judge documents only by the looks of it since different types of forms (or only letters) may be used at different prosecutors offices (e.g. Fezlekes). Only a lawyer could conduct a reliable verification, since he/she could compare the document’s contents (such as case-numbers) with the respective registries. Another lawyer told me that he had verified several documents for European Immigration authorities and that most of these documents had proved to be falsified. He had further noticed that most of these documents (some of them being ‘warrants’) referred to article 169 in the (old) Turkish Criminal Code. According to him, this article does not play an important role any more and it rarely leads to punishment: ‘You can send the persons with article 169 back to Turkey, nothing will happen to them’. However, persons who are wanted for activities sanctioned by articles 125 and 168 in the Penal Code might still face severe problems after return, according to Demirtaş. He stressed that some of these persons really might be in need of protection and he suggested that documentation on such cases should be carefully verified.” [16] (p25)

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The General Information Gathering System (GBTS)
30.13 The Swiss NGO Schweizerische Fluchtlingshife (Swiss Organisation for Refugees) stated in its report on Turkey published in June 2003 that:
“There are a number of different information systems in Turkey. The central information system is known as the GBTS (Genel Bilgi Toplama Sistemi – General Information Gathering System). This system lists extensive personal data such as information on arrest warrants, previous arrests, foreign travel restrictions, avoidance of military service, desertion, refusal to pay military tax and delays paying tax. Served sentences are as a rule removed from this information system and entered onto the database of criminal records (Adli Sicil).” [8] (p41)
30.14 As outlined in the September 2003 Report on GBTS system by the Turkish Ministry of Interior, the GBTS is operated by the Anti-Smuggling Intelligence and Data Collection Department of the Turkish National Police. The Ministry of the Interior further state that “In the GBT system records of the following are kept as a general rule:

(i) Persons who have committed a crime but have not been caught;

(ii) Persons who have committed serious crimes such as organised crime, smuggling, drugs related crimes, terrorism, unlawful seizure, murder, fraud;

(iii) Persons who have search warrants issued including those who have an arrest warrant issued “in absentia”;

(iv) Persons who are barred from public service;

(v) Missing persons;

(vi) Persons of responsibility within political parties who have been convicted of crimes defined in the Political Parties Law No.2908, article 4/4;

(vii) Stolen, lost, appropriated motor vehicles, firearms, identification documents.” [17]
30.15 The Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP) in their 2004 legal review publication on legal developments stated in Hasyer that:
“Torture is still endemic in Turkey. The only recent improvement was an indication that methods of torture were less likely to leave visible marks. The GBTSS system stores various personal data. This includes information on criminal convictions, criminal records, outstanding arrest warrants, previous arrests, official judicial preliminary inquiries or investigations by the police or gendarmerie etc. On return to Turkey and at the point of entry all Turkish nationals, including returning failed asylum seekers, are checked against the GBTSS computer records. Returnees with no documents or temporary travel documents will be perceived as a failed asylum seeker. If a returnee is thought to be a failed asylum seeker or if the GBTSS computer records reveal information which is regarded as suspicious he or she is likely to be detained for interrogation at the point of entry. Interrogation is intended to establish or check personal particulars, reasons for and time of departure from Turkey, grounds for seeking asylum, reasons why the application was rejected, any criminal records at home and abroad, and possible contacts with illegal organisations abroad. These were only examples and the questioning was likely to concentrate on the factor(s) which excited suspicion in the first place. Interrogation at the airport was unlikely to amount to persecution, although there is a risk of ill-treatment if an individual upon transfer to the Police HQ in Bakirkoy or the Political (or Anti-terror) Department headquarters on Vatan Caddesi. If as a result of interrogation and further inquiries there is no continuing suspicion the person is likely to be released after an average of 6 to 9 hours. When individuals are held for interrogation, police at the point of entry are likely to seek further information from police or gendarmerie stations in the birthplace and other places of residence in Turkey. If they hold any information about the individual it will be more detailed than that shown on the central computer records. If it is discovered during the initial computer check, interrogation, or inquiries in the home that area an individual is suspected of membership of ‘separatist’ organisations they are likely to be handed over to the Anti Terror Branch. Once transferred to the Anti Terror Branch there is a real risk of torture.” [6a]

30.16 As stated by the Turkish Ministry of the Interior in September 2003, records are erased from the system under the following circumstances:
(i) Upon the death of a person convicted of a crime by a court;

(ii) As soon as a court decision of non-pursuit, acquittal or expiry of time limitation reaches the Turkish National Police (TNP) regarding a person who was previously registered in the GBTS;

(iii) In case of a crime other than those listed above, when the person is caught;

(iv) In case of stolen/lost/appropriated property, when the property in question is found. [17]

30.17 Only the latest warrant of arrest is held on file. The others are cancelled. Information about convicted persons is stored at the Judicial Registry Office (Adli Sicil Mudurlukleri), rather than on the GBTS. (Turkish Ministry of the Interior, September 2003) [17]
30.18 The Turkish Ministry of the Interior stated in September 2003 that “Only records of people who are under judicial proceedings or judicial examination are kept on the GBTS. No records of people are kept on the system who are detained and [subsequently] released by the security forces.” [17]

30.19 The Swiss Organisation for Refugees in its report published June 2003 stated that “Experience has shown, however, that despite its name, this [GBTS] system does not by any means contain all the information relating to a given individual. Concrete examples have demonstrated that individuals are generally only entered onto the system following prosecution or issue of an arrest warrant by the public prosecutor or a court.” [8] (p41)

30.20 However, the Swiss Organisation for Refugees also stated that “In several cases we have discovered that individuals who have been denounced as PKK activists or sympathisers show up as not being sought and therefore do not appear on the register even though authentic police statements prove that they have been denounced by name.” [8] (p41)
30.21 The report continued “It should be mentioned that in addition to the GBTS central information system, the various security forces each have their own information systems… They include the registers of the police, the anti-terrorist department, the gendarmerie, JITEM, the military secret service etc. It is therefore perfectly possible for someone not to be listed on the central system but to be sought by the anti-terrorist unit.” [8] (p41)
30.22 The Swiss Organisation for Refugees further stated that:
“Neither can the absence of a data entry or current investigation or the lack of a passport ban be taken as evidence that an individual is not in danger. Despite the absence of entries in the central information system, the individual concerned might be listed on one of the other information systems. This must certainly be assumed in the case of individuals who have already been taken into custody by the police, gendarmerie or some other branch of the security forces in the past.” [8] (p41)
30.23 In a fax sent to the British Embassy in Ankara on 7 October 2005, the Assistant Director of the Trafficking and Organised Crime Directorate of the Turkish Ministry of Interiors confirmed that:

“In our country the GBT system is governed by the Trafficking Intelligence and Information Gathering Directorate attached to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Law enforcement units such as the police and the gendarme can use the GBT system. While the customs officers stationed at international ports and borders cannot use the GBT system police units stationed at all land, air and sea borders are able to use the said system. Foreign establishments cannot use this system in any way whatsoever. The offence of leaving the country through illegal means can only be detected when the offenders are captured abroad. It is impossible to know who left the country through illegal means and therefore no records are being kept in relation to such matters. Draft evaders are also being registered in the GBT system. Records relating to individuals who are being prosecuted or are subject to investigation are being kept in the GBT system. Records relating to individuals who have been taken into custody and subsequently released are not registered in the GBT system.” [4f]

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31 Employment rights

Labour Act of Turkey
Law No. 4857, Date of enactment: 22.05.2003. Published in the official gazette on 10 June 2003.
Article 1. The purpose of this Act is to regulate the working conditions and work-related rights and obligations of employers and employees working under an employment contract.
With the exception of those cited in Article 4, this Act shall apply to all the establishments and to their employers, employer’s representatives and employees, irrespective of the subject matter of their activities. [27]
31.01 The Employment Act (EA) No. 4857 of 2003, the Trade Unions Act of 1983 and the Obligations Act of 1926 are the sources of employment legislation in relation to termination of employment for employees falling within their scope…
Civil servants and employees with an administrative employment contract are subject to different regulations and are not covered in this Digest. In Turkey, civil servants enjoy considerable job security. [27]
31.02 The US State Department Report (USSD) 2007, published on 11 March 2008, noted that, “The national minimum wage of approximately $495 (585 lira) per month did not provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family. All workers covered by the labor law are also covered by the law establishing a national minimum wage. This law was effectively enforced by the Ministry of Labor Inspection Board.” [5g] (Section 6)

31.03 The USSD 2007 report further added that “The law establishes a 45-hour workweek with a weekly rest day, and limits overtime to three hours per day for up to 270 hours a year. Premium pay for overtime is mandated but the law allows for employers and employees to agree to a flextime schedule. The Labor Inspectorate of the Ministry of Labor effectively enforced wage and hour provisions in the unionized industrial, service, and government sectors, which covered approximately 12 percent of workers. Workers in other sectors had difficulty receiving overtime pay, although by law they were entitled to it.” [5g] (Section 6)

31.04 The USSD 2007 report also noted that “The law mandates occupational health and safety regulations; however, in practice the Ministry of Labor Inspection Board did not carry out effective inspection and enforcement programs. Workers have the right to remove themselves from situations that endangered health or safety without jeopardy to their employment, although reports of them doing so were rare. Authorities effectively enforced this right.” [5g] (Section 6)
31.05 The Turkish Statistical Institute (TURKSTAT) released on 28 September 2007 the Wages and Earnings in the Manufacturing Industry second quarter 2007 noted that:
“When average monthly gross earnings were examined by statistical regional classification at level 12 (twelve regions) (NUTS1), the highest per capita average monthly gross earnings was found in Western Black Sea Region (1 970 TRY.) In the second quarter of 2007 and Northeastern Anatolia Region (1 868 TRY.). Istanbul Region has 1 604 TRY per capita average monthly gross earnings in the second quarter of 2007.” [89b]
31.06 The European Commission 2007 report recorded that:

“There is little progress to report with regard to employment policy. In 2006, the

unemployment rate fell to 9.9 %, while the overall employment rate – at 43.2% –was slightly down compared to 2005. The labour market is characterised by low labour force participation and low employment rates, in particular for women, and high levels of youth unemployment. The large size of the informal economy and the marked rural/urban divide in the labour market are the main challenges. More than half of those in employment are not registered with any social security institution. The Prime Minister’s circular on combating undeclared work identifies various targets and activities. However, more concrete policies and measures, including greater inspection capacities, are needed in order to tackle the problem together with the social partners. No further progress was made in finalising the Joint Assessment Paper on Employment Policy Priorities (JAP). The Turkish Employment Agency (ISKUR) continued its efforts to improve its institutional capacity.” [71c] (p53-54)

31.07 The European Commission 2007 report also stated that, “As regards social dialogue, there is limited progress. The requirement to have worked for at least ten years in order to be elected to the management bodies of trade unions has been lifted. However, the draft legislation aimed at bringing the currently applicable Trade Union and Collective Bargaining, Strike and Lockout Laws into line with ILO and EU standards is still pending. Full trade union rights have to be established in Turkey… The number of workers covered by collective agreements is still low and further decreasing.” [71c] (p53)
31.08 The EC 2007 report further noted that “There is no progress to report in the area of labour law. Shortcomings in the transposition of a number of directives remain; these include the limited scope of application of the Labour Law. On administrative capacity, recruitment of additional qualified personnel by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and its affiliated institutions continued.” [71c] (p53)
31.09 The EC 2007 report also noted that “As regards health and safety at work, Turkey has attained a good degree of alignment with the acquis. However, shortcomings remain. In particular, new legislation to transpose the Framework Directive has not been adopted. Furthermore, existing legislation does not cover all workers in the private sector and excludes workers in the public sector. In addition, further efforts to implement the legislation are needed, including through awareness-raising, training and strengthening the capacity of the inspection bodies.” [71c] (p53)

31.10 The European Commission 2007 report stated that, “With regard to access to the labour market, new legislation on work permits for foreign nationals makes the procedure for obtaining such permits easier and exempts certain professionals, including those working for national and international projects, from the requirement to obtain work permits.” [71c] (p34)

31.11 The EC 2007 further added that, “Efforts to increase the capacity of the Public Employment Service have continued. Additional staff has been recruited and training has been provided. Work has been initiated to provide jobseekers with public employment services through the internet. Further efforts are needed to prepare for participation in the EURES (European Employment Services) network.” [71c] (p35)
Major Trade Union Confederations
31.12 As recorded in Europa Regional Survey of the World: The Middle East and North Africa 2005, the major trade union confederations were TÜRK-IŞ

(Confederation of Turkish Labour Unions and DISK (Confederation of Progressive Labour Unions ). [1a] (p1204)

31.13 In addition to TURK and DISK there is also The Confederation of Turkish Real Trade Unions (HAK-İŞ) which was set up on 22 October 1976 in Ankara. Today, the HAK-İŞ has 9-affiliate trade unions. The aim is to respect human rights, universal principles and values, the Constitution and the natural law. It believes in the unity of the country and “It accepts it as its principle to defend and improve effectively the rights and interests of working people with an understanding of pluralist and truly democracy. It considers the humans and labour as high values. In order to reach this aim, it accepts the innovative, principled, responsible and resolute struggle as its own main duty and responsibilty.” [49]

31.14 There is also the existence of the Public Sector Workers Union Confederation (KESK). The Confederation of Public Employees Trade Unions represents the struggle for unionisation of public employees in Turkey since its establishment in 1995… the number of KESK affiliated unions is 11 and our confederation has 231.987 members in total. The percentage of women membership is 41, 02 %... [47]

31.15 The EC 2007 progress report recorded that:
“On labour rights and trade unions, the requirement to have worked at least ten years in order to be elected to the management bodies of trade unions has been lifted by new legislation. Furthermore, some employers’ and employees’ unions have concluded joint declarations and protocols on bipartite social dialogue. However, restrictions remain on the exercise of full trade union rights. Turkey fails to fully implement the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions in particular as regards the right to organise, the right to strike and the right to bargain collectively. Turkey still maintains its reservations on Article 5 (right to organise) and Article 6 (right to bargain collectively) of the revised European Social Charter.” [71c] (p20)
31.16 The US State Department Report (USSD) 2007, published on 11 March 2008, noted that:
“The law provides most but not all workers with the right to associate and form unions subject to diverse restrictions; most workers exercised this right in practice. The government maintained a few restrictions on the right of association. Unions may be established by a minimum of seven persons without prior permission. There are no restrictions on membership or participation of individuals or unions in regional, national, or international labor organizations, but such participation must be reported to the government.” [5g] (Section 6)

31.17 The USSD 2007 report also noted that “Labor law prohibits union leaders from becoming officers of or otherwise performing duties for political parties, from working for or being involved in the operation of any profit-making enterprise, and from displaying any political party logos or symbols on any union or confederation publications. Unions are required to notify government officials prior to holding meetings or rallies (which must be held in officially designated areas) and to allow government representatives to attend their conventions and record the proceedings; these requirements were usually enforced.” [5g] (Section 6)

31.18 The USSD 2007 report further noted that, “The law provides for the right to strike; however, the law requires a union to take a series of steps, including negotiations and nonbinding mediation, before calling a strike. The law prohibits unions from engaging in secondary (solidarity), political, or general (involving multiple unions over a large geographical area) strikes or in work slowdowns. In sectors in which strikes are prohibited, labor disputes were resolved through binding arbitration.” [5g] (Section 6)
31.19 The USSD 2007 report further noted that “The law prohibits strikes by civil servants, public workers engaged in the safeguarding of life and property, workers in the coal mining and petroleum industries, sanitation services, national defense, banking, and education; however, many workers in these sectors conducted strikes in violation of these restrictions with general impunity. The majority of strikes during the year were illegal according to law; while some illegal strikers were dismissed, in most cases employers did not retaliate.” [5g] (Section 6)

31.20 The USSD 2007 report also stated that “The law and diverse government restrictions and interference limited the ability of unions to conduct their activities, including collective bargaining. Industrial workers and some public sector employees, excluding white-collar civil servants and state security personnel, have the right to bargain collectively, and approximately 1.3 million workers, or 5.4 percent of the workforce, were under collective bargaining agreements. The law requires that, in order to become a bargaining agent, a union must represent 50 percent plus one of the employees at a given work site and 10 percent of all the workers in that particular industry. This requirement favored established unions.” [5g] (Section 6)

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