Thursday, October 4, 2012

Authorities in North Cyprus deport 35 Syrian asylum seekers in breach of international law

On 2 October 2012, Tuesday a group of 35 asylum seekers including children were deported from Northern Cyprus territories despite the human rights organizations and the UNHCR offices in Cyprus have warned the authorities that these people risk being killed or tortured if deported. Humanrights activists and lawyers were assaulted while trying to protest the deportation decision at Famagusta Port.

Ceren Göynüklü, human rights lawyer and director of Refugee Rights Association, reported that  they were contacted by the relatives of asylum seekers that they were being deported on Tuesday evening (2 October) even though they were assured earlier by the authorities that no deportation will take place. It is also stated that the police forces used disproportionate force against the refugees who opposed to be deported. Eye witness accounts also state that tear gas was used against some asylum seekers who resisted the

Deporting asylum seekers and refugees is a common practice in North Cyprus as the international laws are not respected most of the time and the territory does not have legislation regulating asylum and refugee status. However Turkey, who is taken to be in effective control of the territory and can be held responsible for the violations of international law in North Cyprus is party to the UN Refugee Convention, UN Convention against Torture and European Convention on Human Rights.

All these international treaties requires state parties to asses a refugee application in accordance with international law and do not deport any asylum seekers if there is a risk to their life or they risk being tortured at the destination they are being deported to. Given the fact that the authorities were informed by both the lawyers and the UNHCR about the risks of deportation for these people this persistent attitude of the authorities symbolises an indifferent approach to international law and human rights.  police trying to drag them out of the car. The tear gas used also affected children in the car, some accounts stated. Some video footage recorded with an amateur camera by one of the witnesses of the events was released  right after the incident.