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EU welcomes new Turkish law on foreigners

The European Union has welcomed a new Turkish law on foreigners and international protection, hailing the move by the Turkish Parliament as a “clear sign” of Turkey's efforts to establish a sound legal and institutional framework for migration and asylum.

A joint statement released by EU commissioners Stefan Füle and Cecilia Malmström on Friday said the European Commission welcomes the adoption by the Turkish Parliament of the law on foreigners and international protection. It added that this law and the institutions that it provides for indicate Turkey's clear commitment to build an effective migration management system in line with EU and international standards.

According to the law, foreigners and those who have international protection cannot be sent back to places where they could be subject to torture, inhumane treatment or humiliating punishment, or where they would be threatened due to their race, religion or membership in a certain group.

The law stipulates that foreigners who are subject to comprehensive investigations while entering the country can be forced to wait for only four hours. Another article of the law allows Turkish authorities to ban a foreigner for only five years but if that person is seen as a serious threat to public order and security, his or her ban can be increased to 10 years. Foreigners with expired residence permits will be given only a year's ban if they appeal to a governor's office.

The law stipulates that foreigners who stay in Turkey for more than 90 days should apply for a residence permit. The residence permit will become invalid if not used for six months.

According to the new law, authorities will have the right to investigate marriages of foreigners to Turkish citizens in the case of “reasonable suspicions” of fraudulence. Foreigners who have stayed in Turkey with a valid residence permit for eight years uninterruptedly can be given an unlimited residence permit.

The commission also said in the statement that it welcomes the advanced steps taken by Turkey in the area of respect for human rights.

“It is also worth noting that the adoption of these key reforms takes place amid substantial and commendable efforts deployed by Turkey to provide assistance and protection to a very high number of people fleeing the conflict in Syria,” the statement said.

Since the revolt in Syria began two years ago, more than 1.2 million Syrians fleeing violence and persecution have registered as refugees or await processing in neighboring countries and North Africa, the UN says. They include 261,635 in Turkey, mostly staying in 17 camps, many of them overflowing.

The commission said it is confident that, once properly implemented, this law will also address several issues identified in the Commission Roadmap for visa liberalization which will constitute the basis for the visa liberalization dialogue once this begins.

“The Commission is ready to extend its support with all necessary instruments to Turkey in its quest to reshape its migration and asylum management," the commission concluded.

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