Legal Note No. 6: EU Law Protections for Refugee Women and Children - Spotlight on the European Convention on Human Rights

This Legal Note outlines the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) protections afforded to refugee women and children. The ECHR is an international treaty that protects the fundamental civil and political rights of individuals in countries that belong to the Council of Europe. Women and child refugees and asylum seekers are particularly vulnerable to human rights violations due to heightened risk of human trafficking and exploitation, unlawful detention in unsuitable conditions and, sometimes, FGM. Although the ECHR does not provide for any specific protections for women and children refugees and asylum seekers, the European Court of Human Rights has developed a number of such protections through its jurisprudence. The Legal Note discusses these matters in further detail and considers, in particular, challenges to access to justice and accountability. 

Keywords: women, children, gender, trafficking, refugee, asylum, protection, impunity, legislation, human rights, FGM, ECHR, ECtHR, European Convention on Human Rights

Legal Note No. 5: EU law protections for women asylum seekers

This legal note outlines the EU law rights and protections afforded to women asylum seekers. The EU legal framework governing asylum claims and human trafficking generally takes into account the specific circumstances and special needs of vulnerable women; establishing, in particular, common rules on protections for asylum seekers and victims of human trafficking. While the EU framework takes into account gender issues, reservations have been expressed about its transposition and implementation at national level, contributing to protection gaps for women and girls. Some EU Member States fail to meet EU minimum standards. An oft-cited solution would be the creation of EU-wide gender guidelines on refugees to harmonise gender-sensitive asylum systems and to foster consistency across EU Member States.

Keywords: women, gender, trafficking, refugee, asylum, protection, impunity, legislation, human rights, EU

Legal Note No. 4: EU protections for child refugees

This legal note outlines the EU law rights and protections afforded to child refugees. Despite legal protections child refugees, including those arriving in the EU, are particularly vulnerable to the risk of sexual violence or gender based harm, such as trafficking and sexual exploitation. EU Member States and EU agencies are required to act in “the best interests of the child” in all decision-making processes. Various pieces of EU legislation contain special protections for child migrants but implementation of the EU’s protective legislation can be varied and inconsistent. Greater awareness of protections, stronger implementation and closer co-ordination will assist refugee children better.

Keywords: children, trafficking, refugee, protection, impunity, legislation, human rights, EU

Legal Note No. 3: International law protections for refugee women in relation to trafficking

This legal note outlines the international law protections for refugee women in relation to trafficking. International law prohibits the trafficking of persons and provides special protection to refugees, whilst recognising the unique experience of women. Despite international law protections, women are at higher risk of becoming victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation. There are three key issues that need to be addressed: (1) attempts by States to adopt restrictive interpretations of the definitions of ‘refugee’ and ‘trafficking’ which loosen legal protections and are contrary to established legal principles; (2) non-comprehensive ratification of key legal instruments by States; and (3) and ineffective mechanisms at the international level for monitoring and enforcing implementation.

Keywords: women's rights, trafficking, refugee, protection, impunity, legislation, human rights, CEDAW, Palermo Protocol

Legal Note No. 2: International law protections for refugee children: Gender-based rights considerations

This legal note outlines the international law protections for refugee children that are fragmented across multiple legal instruments. Gender-based concerns do not tend to be the key focus of the legal instruments themselves, although in recent decades, UN agencies and NGOs have clearly identified such concerns in relation to displaced children. Despite widespread ratification, international human rights instruments are often hampered by inadequate incorporation into domestic legal systems of State parties and a lack of accountability of State parties for their noncompliance.

Keywords: children, refugee, protection, rights of the child, impunity, legislation, human rights, UNCRC, Palermo Protocol

Legal Note No. 1: Conflict related sexual violence

This legal note considers the key themes and contexts within which conflict related sexual violence occurs. It examines key international legal instruments relevant to this area and explores mechanisms for their implementation. It concludes with suggestions for prevention and proposes further gender-specific ways to ensure legal accountability for crimes.

Keywords: conflict, sexual violence, accountability, impunity, women, peace, security, gender based rights, gender based violations, international criminal law, international human rights law, redress, justice.


Brief Note No. 2: Revisions to Turkish legislation on sexual abuse of children

This briefing concerns Turkish legislation on sexual abuse of children which was amended in November 2016 after controversial government proposals which attempted to significantly dilute protections for children. The current legislation, even after the amendments, is limited to increasing punishment for the crime, and is likely to result in unwelcome court decisions not acting in the best interest of children. Accountability Unit assesses the shortcomings to the legislation and proposes that Turkey urgently adopts a national plan of action and further legal protections to actively prevent different manifestations of sexual abuse of children.

Keywords: sexual abuse, child abuse, Turkey, criminal law, rape, child marriages, trafficking, rights of the child, impunity, legislation

Brief Note No. 1: Assessing gender based rights violations in Gaziantep, Turkey

This briefing outlines current gender based human rights violations in the form of trafficking, forced prostitution and sexual abuse of women and children, in particular refugees, in Gaziantep and the region. It proposes further action required on the part of the State to address violations and the role civil society stakeholders may play.

Keywords: Turkey, Gaziantep, Antep, gender based violations, gender based rights, sexual violence, women, peace, security, VAW, SGBV, human rights, accountability, impunity, redress.


Amicus Curiae Brief - Case of Z.B.T. v. M.T. and M.G.E - Recommendations on Principles of Juvenile Justice in Turkey

Accountability Unit submitted an Amicus Curiae Brief to the Istanbul Anatolian 30th Criminal Court, concerning the lack of protection provided to a 12 years old girl (B.T.) who was effected by an ongoing legal battle between her parents (Case of Z.B.T. v. M.T. and M.G.E). We asked the Turkish Court to consider: (a) acting in accordance with the principle of the best interests of the child; and (b) that every child has a right to be heard during court proceedings and a right to self-determination on issues affecting their lives. We recommended that all necessary measures to be taken in order to protect B.T. within the juvenile justice system and from further violence and trauma by her care givers.

Open Letter to the Turkish Parliament regarding the law on sexual exploitation of children

This Open Letter outlines our concerns and recommendations regarding a proposed law on sexual exploitation of children in Turkey. We are concerned that annulling the current prohibition of all sexual acts with children under 15 years of age without further legislation prohibiting such acts, nor defining the crime of sexual exploitation of children, the Proposal effectively removes the age of consent for child victims. We wish for an open and transparent discussion of the proposed law and urge the Turkish Parliament to review the Proposal to amend Article 103 in light of many multi-disciplinary studies conducted on child exploitation and to consult lawyers and human rights practitioners working in this field when amending the law. 

Keywords: sexual exploitation, child abuse, Turkey, criminal law, age of consent, rape, child marriages, trafficking, rights of the child, impunity, legislation