April 14, 2010

Press Release from Iranian Refugees' Alliance, Inc.

Turkey's treatment of refugees condemned by the European Court of Human Rights in six more applications

Iranian Refugees' Alliance, Inc. (IRA-INC) welcomes yesterday's judgments by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in six more applications concerning unlawful deportation and/or detention of ten Iranian refugees (Ranjbar and Others v. Turkey, no. 37040/07, Keshmiri v. Turkey, no. 36370/08, and Tehrani and Others v. Turkey, nos. 32940/08, 41626/08 and 43616/08) and one Tunisian refugee (Charahili v. Turkey, no. 46605/07)

The seven-member chamber of judges issued a unanimous conclusion that the pending deportation of six refugees to Iran, Iraq or Tunisia contravened Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Judges also found a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) in conjunction with Article 3 in the cases of five applicants and violations of Articles 5 (right to liberty and security) of the Convention for ten of the applicants who complained about their detention. In two of the applications concerning four refugees it was also ruled that the government has violated Article 3 of the Conventions on account of the physical conditions of two of the facilities that the refugees were detained in for some periods of their detention.

Eight applicants were awarded sums ranging from EUR 9,000 to EUR 26,000 each for non-pecuniary damages and four applications received EUR 3,500 each for costs and expenses under Article 41 (just satisfaction) of the Convention.

"The ECtHR rulings in case after case make some welcome reparation to the individual complainants, and send a strong message that in today's Europe, governments cannot summarily detain and deport refugees without being held to account," said IRA-INC's director Deljou Abadi who represented four of the applicants in the proceedings before the ECtHR. "We again call upon the government of Turkey to protect the right of all refugees against arbitrary deportation and detention as parts of its obligations as a member of the Council of Europe, and to carry out the necessary legal and practical reforms highlighted in these rulings."

The eleven refugees entered Turkey on various dates between 2005 and 2008. All were recognized as refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) either before or after they were arrested and detained by the Turkish authorities. Five of the Iranians were detained and summarily deported to Iraq in August 2007 after legally residing in Turkey for periods of one to two years since 2005 or 2006. They were eventually resettled in Sweden in 2008 from Iraq. The other five Iranians were detained and ordered deported since shortly after their entry between June and September 2008. Two were released in November 2009. The Tunisian refugee has remained detained since 2006. The last six were able to prevent their deportation by filing applications with the ECtHR.

Despite UNHCR recognition of refugee status, and the agency's repeated interventions on the refugees' behalf, the Turkish government has insisted on their deportation "for reasons of national security." In proceedings at the ECtHR, the government justified this claim merely by maintaining that refugees "had been involved in activities against the Iranian administration during their stay in Turkey" (Ranjbar and others), or for their former membership in the People's Mojahedin Khalq of Iran (Keshmiri, and Tehrani and others), or membership in the organization Ennahda (Charahili).

These bring to eight the number of judgments so far issued by the ECtHR with respect to the string of refugee-related applications filed against Turkey since January 2008. The first judgment, Abdolkhani and Karimnia v. Turkey I (30471/08) of 22 September 2009 issued a sweeping pronouncement that applicants' unlawful detention and deportation violated Articles 3, 13, 5-1, 5-2 and 5-4 of the Convention and ordered the government to pay the applicants a total of EUR 43,500 in just satisfaction. A second judgment (Z.N.S. v. Turkey , no. 21896/08 ) announced on 19 January 2010 also found Turkey in violation of Articles 3, 5-1 and 5-4 for possible deportation and detention of a female Iranian who had converted from Islam to Christianity and fined the government EUR 20,000 in non-pecuniary damages.

IRA-INC represented six of the above applicants (nos. 30471/08, 32940/08, 41626/08 and 43616/08) in the proceedings before the ECtHR. In 2006 IRA-INC won another ECtHR case against Turkey in an application on behalf of three Iranian refugees (D. and others v. Turkey, no. 24245/03).

The ECtHR judgment are accessible on its Internet site: www.echr.coe.int.

Iranian Refugees' Alliance, Inc. , is a non-profit NGO in the U.S. assisting and advocating on behalf of Iranian asylum seekers and refugees nationally and internationally.


Iranian Refugees' Alliance, Inc.

Cooper Station
P.O.Box 316

New York, NY 10276-0316 USA

tel /: 212-260-7460

fax /: 267-295-7391

email : irainc@irainc.org

URL: www.irainc.org