Top Turkish court finds right violation in deporting Syrian refugee for driving under the influence

The Constitutional Court (AYM) of Turkey on Jan. 9 found that the deportation ruling made for Hüsam İbrahim, a Syrian refugee, on drunk driving charges violated “the prohibition of ill-treatment.” The Istanbul Governor’s Office had ruled to deport him for “violating traffic safety.”

Osman Çaklı / Gazete Duvar

Turkey’s Constitutional Court (AYM) on Jan. 9 found that the decision to deport Syrian refugee Hüsam İbrahim for driving under the influence was a violation of “the prohibition of ill-treatment.” 

İbrahim was found driving with a 2.00 blood alcohol level during a routine traffic control in 2019. Police started a legal process against İbrahim, and the Istanbul Governor’s Office ruled to deport him for “violating traffic safety.” 

İbrahim’s attorney Müslüm Yıldız had filed an injunction to pause the deportation ruling and applied to the Constitutional Court. The Court cited the principle of “non-refoulement” in international law in its findings, which suggest asylum seekers cannot be forced by receiving parties to return to the country where they would be in probable danger of persecution.  

İbrahim came to Turkey in 2012, fleeing from the civil war in Syria. He is classified as under temporary protection status. He had stated after the 2019 ruling that his life would be in danger in Syria if he were to be deported. 

Attorney Yıldız stated they found the AYM ruling promising, and noted that local Turkish courts' treatment of immigration cases was getting harsher in recent years, as legal authorities were “influenced by the political atmosphere.” 

Yıldız defined the initial deportation decision as “severe,” and said that İbrahim should have been released after his statement was taken as a person with “right of stay,” and deportation should have been the last step following a court sentence. He stated presumption of innocence was violated in İbrahim’s case.  

(English version by Ayşenaz Toptaş)