Turkey and Syrian Refugees

Under the terms of the new treaty between the European Union (EU) and Turkey, any Syrian refugee who illegally enters the EU would be detained and then transported to Turkey.   In return for accepting these refugees, Turkey would receive €6 billion, the elimination of visa requirements for Turkish citizens entering EU countries, and a commitment to an expedited process in response to Turkey’s request to become a member of the EU. The EU also pledged to repatriate qualified refugees into its member countries in a number equal to those transported to Turkey, but has created no mechanism to do so.

Dr. Thomas Gammerloft-Hansen and Non-Entrée Policies

Dr. Thomas Gammerloft-Hansen. Dr. Gammerloft-Hansen, the director of research at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute, has discussed the EU/Turkey treaty in terms of what he described as the deterrence paradigm. He defined the deterrence paradigm as governmental stratagems designed to keep refugees from entering a country’s jurisdiction.

He asserts that, Turkey, a country of roughly 30 million people, has taken in approximately 3 million Syrian refugees. Many of these refugees he said are situated in camps along Turkey’s border with Syria. He argued that the €6 billion in the treaty was insufficient to meet the needs of the refugees, particularly with the new influx that would occur as a result of the treaty.

Dr. Gammerloft-Hansen suggests the new treaty was an attempt by the EU to meet the letter of the requirement of “non-refoulement” while at the same time avoiding taking the refugees within the borders of the member countries. Non-refoulement, he explains, is a principle of international law which forbids returning a true victim of persecution to his or her persecutor as contained in Article 33(1) of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.

He describes how earlier modes of the deterrence paradigm in the EU such as visa controls, carrier sanctions and high seas interdiction had failed due to legal challenges in the International Court of Human Rights. He states the treaty between the EU and Turkey was merely the latest attempt by the EU to create a deterrence mechanism to avoid responsibility for Syrian refugees, a breach of international law.

Dr. Gammerloft-Hansen anticipates that the deterrence paradigm of the new treaty would be the subject of legal challenges. Based on later conversations, he appears certain, based on prior international court decisions, that the high court would abrogate the non-entrée provisions of the EU/Turkish treaty.