Investigations | 04 Dec 2014

Most of the countries hosting Syrians have not yet given them the legal status of refugees. Syrians are invariably given other different labels, such as displaced or guests; out of fear of any legal obligations and attendant arrangements to protect the rights of refugees.

These countries are, in this manner, neglecting the provision of basic refugees' rights, as stipulated by international laws and regulations.

In Turkey, for example, Syrian refugees have been deprived of their rights, because Turkey did not recognize them as refugees on its territory, opting to call them 'guests.'

Ghazwan Kurunful, head of the Free Syrian Bar Assembly [FSBA] tells Rozana, "The Turkish International Protection Code, does not allow the Ankara government to classify displaced Syrians as refugees, because of several legal obstacles signed by Turkey, under the Refugee Convention of 1951."

Mohammed Hossam Sarhan, Director of Public Relations at the FSBA says that "Turkey has utilized the situation of Syrian refugees on its territory. The agreement Turkey signed with the European Union depriving Syrians from seeking refuge in Europe, was extremely unfair."

Adding that "Turkey has considered Syrians refugees on its territory as guests. A guest does not have any legal status and does not have any right except for what Turkey chooses to offer him. If Turkey gave him a service it would be a gratuity, and it has the option of withdrawing this gratuity at any time of its choosing. It may even deport any displaced Syrians outside of the Turkish territory, whenever it may see fit."

Judge Khairallah Ghannoum, Head of the Independent Syrian Judicial Council [ISJC] says: "The absence of a political or judicial body representing the interests of Syrian refugees with international organizations and bodies, has made their status a sort of a commodity traded between the various host countries."

He believes that "The Syrian refugee situation in Turkey requires passing a law by the Turkish Parliament, which is very difficult as things stand now. The temporary Syrian government should intensify its efforts to put pressure on the Turkish government, to issue a law of the Turkish parliament," he says, adding that the various associations, bodies, and human right councils, are exerting their maximum efforts to this end.

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