Two soldiers in Turkey’s eastern Van province have been arrested for allegedly raping an Afghan refugee as they were taking a group of refugees to the border to deport them, the T24 news website reported on Thursday.
According to T24, two soldiers who were identified only by their initials O.K. and A.C.D. on Tuesday night separated Afghan national Leyla M., 24, from the rest of a group of 16 refugees, took her to a bathroom and allegedly raped her.
Other personnel on duty heard the girl’s screams and came to the scene, T24 said, adding that the outpost commander reported the incident to the prosecutor’s office after Leyla M. identified the two soldiers who attacked her.
After their detention, O.K. denied the accusations and held A.C.D. responsible for the alleged rape, while A.C.D. pled guilty and said he and O.K. committed the crime together.
Both of the soldiers were arrested pending trial, according to T24.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) found in a report released in November that many Afghans facing deportation have no way to apply for refugee status or otherwise challenge their deportation and that their signatures or fingerprints on voluntary return forms are often forced, obtained through deception, or falsified.
According to HRW, Turkey does not meet the criteria of a safe third country under Article 38 of the Asylum Procedures Directive because Turkish authorities block access to asylum, forcibly return people claiming to be refugees and commit other abuses against migrants and people seeking international protection.