MADRID – Turkish authorities have forced several Syrian
refugee journalists who fled the war to return home as part
of a campaign launched since June to compulsorily return several Syrian refugees.
According to Skyline International sources, the Turkish
authorities arrested three Syrian journalists, Hussein Al-Tawil,
Yarub Al-Daly and Ubaida Al-Omar, and deported them after being forced to sign pledges of “voluntary return.”
Reporters Without Borders has documented three cases of journalists who have been forcibly deported by the Turkish authorities.
In June, the Turkish authorities arrested Syrian journalist Hussein al-Tawil, who works for Al-Jisr TV, in the area of Rihaniyeh. He was deported while trying to reach an area where he was granted a temporary protection card.
Yarub Al-Daly had also been arrested and deported on July the 3rd. About a month later the Turkish army beat Al-Daly while attempting to cross into Turkey again.
Reporters Without Borders has also documented the arrest of
the journalist Obeida Al-Omar, a Hurriya Net correspondent, in Antakya on July 26 despite having a temporary protection card; this was before he was forced to sign pledges of voluntary return.
Turkish Must Protect Them
Deported journalists face great risks, particularly because of
their media work and their contribution to exposing human rights violations and the effects of the conflict in Syria. This requires special protection for them.
According to available information, the Syrian journalist Yarub
al-Daly, who has been deported from Turkey, was threatened in Syrian territories if he entered a specific city. This forced him to flee to another city since he is not allowed to return to Turkey.
In addition to these cases, many Syrian journalists in Turkey
are at risk of losing their jobs due to possible deportation. According to the Turkish newspaper “Haberler”, about 300
Syrian media persons in Istanbul are at risk of either losing their jobs or being deported outside Turkey within two months.
The Turkish authorities have denied any case of forced
deportation, claiming that they help those who need access to “safe areas”.
Despite that, many refugees, including journalists, have been
detained and subjected to identity checks, threatened with imprisonment, and subjected to pressure to sign a request for “voluntary return”.
Protection Is A Fundamental
Skyline International states that the deportation of refugee
journalists in Turkey is contrary to the principles of the International Law and International Human Rights Law.
In particular, the principle of “non-refoulement” which is a
fundamental principle of international refugee protection
rules, it prohibits the return of refugees to areas that are life-threatening and endangering them.
The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees
affirms that no refugee should be forcibly returned, posing a threat to his life and dignity. It also includes both a generic protocol in 1967 and the 1984 Convention against Torture, on the same principle.
The Turkish authorities are trying to justify their actions as a
“mere voluntary return”, although the available testimonies
deny this and confirm that many Syrian refugees are forced to return to unsafe areas in Syria.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stressed that the majority of Syrian refugees still need protection. This
requires the Turkish authorities to verify their procedures
and the seriousness of the deportation of people who will not be safe later.
Skyline International stresses that journalists are a category
that needs more protection because of their conditions that
make them work in risky environments, in addition to the fact
that hundreds of them are at risk of losing their jobs due to deportation.
Skyline International calls on the Turkish authorities to stop
the forced deportation of Syrian refugees because such procedures take place without legal basis.
The Turkish authorities must try to work on settling the Syrian refugees’ situations for a longer period of time and to
ensure that they are not at risk if they return back to Syria.