IRCT and Refugee Support Aegean/Pro Asyl are gravely concerned about the treatment of three Syrian refugees that have suffered from torture are being readmitted to Turkey. IRCT has in an expert statement provided the opinion that the Turkish Government does not provide torture victims with any rehabilitation services that are available, appropriate and promptly accessible as required under law. Greece thereby violates its legal obligations to torture victims to prevent their further torture and ill-treatment and to provide rehabilitation – by expelling victims to Turkey where they are unable to obtain the specialised medical and psychological support that they require from the State and may, as a result, experience intense suffering and additional ill-treatment or torture. Read the full brief here.
Greece is currently sending Syrian refugees residing in the refugee camp in Lesvos, to Turkey on the grounds that Turkey is “considered a safe third country” – regardless of their past and current traumas. Not only does this mean that their current mental health therapy would be discontinued, they will also face homelessness, no access to food and mental support – a deeply humiliating treatment, especially for those who have endured torture and are suffering from the devastating health consequences. There is a threat of refoulement; with the lack of individual case assessments in Turkey they risk being returned to Syria.
There are no State rehabilitation programmes for torture victims in Turkey. A Committee against Torture review of Turkey documents that no programmes exist and so, the grounds of which Greece are sending Syrian refugees to Turkey are invalid and extremely harmful. Greece is violating its legal obligations to torture victims – to prevent further torture and ill-treatment and to provide rehabilitation – by expelling the Syrian refugees to Turkey where they are unable to obtain the specialised medical and psychological support that they require from the State and may, as a result, experience intense suffering and additional ill-treatment or torture.
The three Syrians risking readmission to Turkey are currently in a vital rehabilitation programme with Doctors without Borders to continue healing and to rebuild a life, even in the dire circumstances of the Lesvos refugee camp.
Greece must conduct individualised assessments of whether each victim would experience intense suffering and health consequences if sent to Turkey. Since there are is no specialized rehabilitation by Turkish authorities, we strongly urge Greece to refrain from expelling torture victims with physical and/or psychological trauma to Turkey.