Dr. Mohammad Haj Bakri refused to travel by car to Mersin in Turkey without obtaining an official travel permit for the journey, despite it being a short trip. Dr. Haj Bakri insists on staying above the law and adhering to the regulations imposed by the Turkish government on refugees.
After heading to the Migration Management near Antakya to obtain the permit, several charges were brought against Dr. Haj Bakri, and he was ultimately detained. He was informed of a ‘code’ on his name, part of a set of codes, each one corresponding to a specific offense, such as terrorism and deportation. Unable to escape the code on his name, Dr. Haj Bakri was arrested and transferred to the city of Adana, where he was detained for over a month.
After heading to the Migration Management to obtain a travel permit, charges were brought against Dr. Bakri and he was detained. He was informed of a ‘code’ on his name, part of a set of codes, each one corresponding to a specific offense, such as terrorism and deportation
There were no charges against him or any official decision behind his arrest. The issue persisted until he visited the Migration Department, and many refugees, unaware of any allegations or charges against them, have found themselves in similar situations. A straightforward visit to a government office to update personal data or carry out a simple transaction can end in arrest, and in most cases, deportation.
A code for arrest and another for deportation
This has instilled fear among thousands of refugees across Turkey. Dealing with the matter has become almost impossible, and some lawyers are demanding exorbitant and infeasible fees to remove these mysterious ‘codes’ or prevent deportation.
Omar's story differs from that of Dr. Haj Bakri, but both men experienced similar outcomes. Omar has been living in Ankara for years, and has all his legal documents –from a residential address, to a protection card issued by the same province. However, a patrol officer stopped him, and told him of a deportation ‘code’ registered in his name. Raseef22 spoke with his wife, who managed to stop Omar’s deportation after confirming to the necessary authorities that there was no problem against her husband that necessitates having such a code. She has managed to obtain a court decision to halt his deportation, although he is still under arrest and does not know when he will be released. His fate upon release is also uncertain, and it is not known whether his temporary protection card will be enough to keep him out of detention and in the country legally. In addition to paying the lawyer $1,500 for his services, she tells Raseef22 that the additional responsibility of caring for their children and family is challenging.
There are approximately 4.9 foreigners in Turkey, according to the Turkish Immigration Authority, of which 3.3 million are Syrian refugees in the country under temporary protection.
There are approximately 4.9 foreigners in Turkey, according to the Turkish Immigration Authority, of which 3.3 million are Syrian refugees in the country under temporary protection. They are spread across most provinces. The same study indicates that 554,100 Syrians have returned to their homeland safely and voluntarily.
Najla Hamal, a lawyer and legal consultant at the Amal Center for Advocacy and Recovery, who is familiar with the issues of Syrian refugees in Turkey, spoke to Raseef22 about the situation in Turkey and the reasons behind the assignment of these 'codes' which regulate the status of Syrian refugees through the temporary protection card. Hamal explains that any previous cases and court proceedings against a Syrian refugee can lead to the assignment of these codes. According to her, anyone with a previous case or offense should expect a code on their name, and the best way to confirm this is by consulting the Migration Department.
Hamal is among a group of workers dedicated to explaining Turkish laws to Syrian refugees. A few weeks ago, she hosted a two-hour long comprehensive session, explaining the codes and what they mean, and clarified that security and terrorism-related codes do not stem from previous cases. Turkey has full authority to assign those codes to any individual committing a violation that threatens state security and stability.
A straightforward visit to a government office to update personal data or carry out a simple transaction can end in arrest, and in most cases, deportation.
Hamal added that in addition to security and deportation codes, there are codes for voluntary return, forgery, and another specifically for addresses, as well as entry and exit restrictions. If a refugee is given a code, their temporary protection card is suspended and registration in the Turkish system canceled. Although there is no clear solution to this problem, Hamal points out that there are certain mechanisms that can be followed to possibly help clear a code. Over the years, Hamal has encountered several similar cases, and provided them with the necessary consultations and advice.
Fraud offices and forgery to solve the ‘codes’ issue
The placing of codes on refugees is considered to be one of the most prominent, and increasing, problems they face. The government has implemented this mechanism after facing significant pressure due to the increase in refugees, and the subsequent necessity of imposing the necessary laws to hold perpetrators accountable.
Syrian refugees are vulnerable to fraud at the hands of opportunistic brokers and service offices, claiming to help clear any codes. They pay significant amounts for this service but often fall victim to scams.
Syrian refugees are vulnerable to fraud and forgery at the hands of opportunistic brokers and service offices, claiming to help clear any codes, and return refugee papers in the case of suspension. They pay significant amounts for this service but often fall victim to scams. Several factors contribute to their difficult circumstances, with the language barrier being one. They also lack knowledge of Turkish laws and the ability to file a lawsuit independently, and are often unaware that they are entitled to free legal representation provided by the state.
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