The Administrative Court of Syros ruled unlawful the measure of prohibiting the exit of an Afghan asylum seeker from the new Closed Controlled Access Facility of Samos (CCF Samos)

The Administrative Court of Syros ruled unlawful the measure of prohibiting the exit of an Afghan asylum seeker from the new Closed Controlled Access Facility of Samos (CCF Samos)

Athens, 22 December 2021: With a decision on Friday, 17 December, the Administrative Court of Syros confirmed the unlawful character of the prohibition of exit imposed by the Greek state on residents of the recently operationalised Closed Controlled Access Facility in Samos (CCF), in the case of an Afghan asylum applicant represented by the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR). In challenging the deprivation of the applicant’s freedom before the Court, GCR had argued that this prohibition amounts to a de facto detention measure that starkly contravenes the guarantees foreseen by Greek and EU legislation.  This is the first Court decision assessing the measure of prohibiting residents’ exit from a Closed Controlled Access Facility (CCF) in Greece.   

 

As is the case with other residents of the Samos CCF, who remain restricted inside the facility, the Afghan asylum applicant, whose subsequent asylum application is pending, has been barred from exiting the CCF. This prohibition took effect without any written decision ordering his restriction in the CCF being notified to him, and without any information on the grounds of such a restriction being provided.  In support of the applicant, GCR lodged “Objections” against this de facto detention before the Administrative Court of First Instance of Syros.

Taking into account its character as a de facto detention measure and thus acknowledging its jurisdiction to assess this “exit ban”, the Court held that:

 

- “the detention of asylum seekers is […] only allowed on the basis of a decision issued by the competent Police Director, as an exceptional measure and only for one of the grounds exhaustively prescribed by article 46 of said Law, [yet] no decision with such content has been issued […]” and said preconditions had not been met,

- “the Head of the […] CCF illegally took the measure in question (exit ban) against the applicant".

 

The Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) has repeatedly stressed that the widespread and systematic use of measures restricting the freedom of asylum seekers in Greece is of liminal lawfulness and incompatible with basic human rights standards.

 

Following the decision of the Greek Court, GCR calls on the competent Authorities to immediately put an end to the illegal practice of "exit ban" from the Closed Controlled Access Facilities and to comply with the guarantees and standards of national and European legislation.

 

Brief history

 

The Closed Controlled Access Facility of Samos (CCF Samos), which was financed entirely by EU funds, was inaugurated in September 2021 by the Minister for Migration and Asylum. Two new Closed Controlled Access Facilities in Kos and Leros, were inaugurated on November 27, 2021 in the presence of the Vice President of the EU, Mr. Margaritis Schinas. Since its initial announcement, the Greek government’s intention to create Closed Controlled Facilities in the Eastern Aegean islands had already raised serious concerns regarding the freedom of movement of asylum seekers and the risk of imposition of generalized detention measures. Shortly after the operationalization  of the Samos CCF, from November 17 onwards, these concerns were confirmed. A significant number of residents were barred from leaving the facility, without any prior information and / or written decision, resulting in their restriction within the premises of the facility; a measure which according to international standards, amounts to a de facto detention measure.

 

This illegal practice of the Greek Authorities was recorded by GCR with a detailed report. According to testimonies recorded by GCR and "[…] confirmed by the Administration of CCF, from November 17, those who do not have an asylum seeker card are barred from leaving the structure. Amongst the persons  that do not have a card are: a) new arrivals after the registration of their asylum application and pending the issuance of a card, b) persons whose applications have been rejected at second instance who have not lodged or are unable to lodge a subsequent asylum application, c) those who have filed a subsequent application until a decision on admissibility is rendered, (d) those whose applications have been rejected at first instance, until they can lodge an appeal. The recent decision of the Administrative Court of First Instance of Syros demonstrates the arbitrary nature of this practice.

 

Read the full decision here (in English):

https://www.gcr.gr/en/ekdoseis-media/echr-cases/case-decision-before-greek-courts/item/1866-arithmos-apofasis-praktikoy-ar-36-17-12-2021-dioikitiko-protodikeio-syrou

 

 

Notes

Greek Council for Refugees, "Prison conditions and the practice of illegal detention in the new Closed Controlled Access Center of Samos", Newsletter December 2021, available at: https://mailchi.mp/9e9227576fff/newsletter-13420657?e=5939f33e2c

Also, in the reference text: https://www.gcr.gr/el/ekdoseis-media/reports/item/1839-i-nea-kleisti-elegxomeni-domi-samou-mia-apomonomeni-sygxroni-fylaki

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