„Turkey is entitled to secure its border with Syria, but is obliged to respect the principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits rejecting asylum seekers at borders when that would expose them to the threat of persecution, torture, and threats to life and freedom. Turkey is also obliged to respect international norms on use of lethal force as well as the rights to life and bodily integrity, including the absolute prohibition on subjecting anyone to inhuman and degrading treatment.
The violence against Syrian refugees, and Turkey’s refusal to allow them to cross the border, comes as the European Union has shut its own borders to asylum seekers. In March, the EU concluded a controversial migration deal with Ankara to curb refugee and migration flows to Europe, committing €6 billion in aid to assist Syrians in Turkey, reinvigorating Turkey’s EU membership negotiations, and offering the prospect of visa-free travel for Turkish citizens. The deal provides for Europe to return migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees, including Syrians, who reach Greece by boat, on the grounds that Turkey is a safe country for them. The deal also commits the EU to work with Turkey to create areas inside Syria that will be “more safe.”
“The EU shouldn’t just stand by and watch as Turkey uses live ammunition and rifle butts to stem the refugee flow,” said Simpson. “EU officials should recognize that their red light for refugees to enter the EU gives Turkey a green light to close its border, exacting a heavy price on war-ravaged asylum seekers with nowhere else to go.”