Protecting Syrians in Turkey: A Legal Analysis


INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF REFUGEE LAW, vol.29, no.4, pp.555-579, 2017 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 29 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Doi Number: 10.1093/ijrl/eex042
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index, Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.555-579


Since 2011, Turkey has pursued an open door policy accompanied by a national temporary protection regime to protect more than three million Syrians fleeing civil war. Turkey is a party to the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees but maintains a geographical limitation to the Convention. Turkey is also a party to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Convention against Torture. Following a failed coup attempt, Turkey declared a State of Emergency in July 2016 which continues today. After this declaration, Turkey submitted a formal notice of derogation from the ECHR as foreseen under article 15, and notified the United Nations Secretary-General that it may take measures involving derogation from obligations under the ICCPR. Since its declaration of a State of Emergency, Turkey has also made a number of changes to its asylum law. In view of these recent developments, this article focuses on the protection of Syrians in Turkey in law and in practice and the consistency of this protection regime with Turkey's international legal obligations. The article has three main parts. The first examines the access of Syrians to the Turkish territories, education, the labour market, refugee status determination procedures, and durable solutions. The second identifies Turkey's international legal obligations towards Syrians. Building on this, the third part examines recent amendments in Turkish asylum law following Turkey's declaration of a State of Emergency and whether Turkish law and practice concerning Syrian refugees is consistent with Turkey's international legal obligations. By examining these issues, the article provides an overview of Turkish law and practice concerning Syrian refugees and explores whether it is consistent with Turkey's obligations under international law.