Serious violations regarding the return of an asylum seeker as part of the implementation of the so-called "Greek-German Administrative Arrangement"

October 25, 2018 - Athens, Greece — On account of the first return of a Syrian asylum seeker from Germany to Greece, represented by the Legal Unit of the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR), GCR expresses its deep concern about the violations of International and EU Law, incidental to the so-called "Greek-German Administrative Arrangement", which, inter alia, provides by way of derogation for the procedure of return of asylum seekers from Germany to Greece.

Specifically, the case concerns an asylum-seeker, a Syrian citizen who, after being identified by the German authorities in early September 2018, and despite having requested asylum before them, was returned to Greece on the same day, where he was automatically detained. After a few days in Athens detention centers, he was returned to Leros as part of the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and for the purpose of his readmission to Turkey, and has since remained in detention, in conditions that constitute inhuman and degrading treatment.

The practice applied in this case, as part of the so-called "Administrative Arrangement", has resulted in serious violations of International and EU law, as:

(a) his application for asylum in Germany was never registered,1

(b) he was deprived of his right to appeal against his return to Greece2

(c) the procedure under the Dublin III Regulation, which is the only legal process for transferring asylum seekers from one member state to another, has been circumvented. Hence, any guarantees provided for in the Dublin III Regulation were overlooked, in particular the one concerning the host authorities' obligation to provide reception conditions (housing)3 to the returned applicant, while his application upon his return to Greece was treated as a subsequent application4, thus depriving him of the fundamental rights of a fair and efficient asylum system.

The aforementioned violations resulting from the implementation of the so-called "Administrative Arrangement" have resulted in the applicant’s detention upon his return to Greece, in conditions that constitute inhuman and degrading treatment, while facing the risk of refoulement to Turkey.

GCR stresses that agreements between states attempting to circumvent the requirements of International Law have serious legal and political implications. As ruled by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), states are not exempted from the responsibility to comply with International and EU law in consequence of such agreements5, and therefore the implementation of the so-called "Administrative Arrangement" does not escape this control.

In any case, GCR stresses that the responsibility for the protection of refugees must be shared equally among EU member states and not be allocated exclusively to countries at external borders, such as Greece. Otherwise, national asylum and reception systems do not meet the needs of international protection applicants according to European standards, which is detrimental not only to refugees but also to the Common European Asylum System itself.


Notes:

1 Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, Article 18 – “Right to Asylum” in accordance with Directive 2013/32/EU, Article 6 – “Access to the procedure”

2 ECHR, MSS v Belgium and Greece, application no. 30696/09, January 21, 2011 and CJEU, C-181/16, Sadikou Gnandi v État belge, June 19, 2018 (Article 54).

 

3 Dublin Regulation (EU) No.604/2013 ('Dublin III'), Article 3, “Where it is impossible to transfer an applicant to the Member State primarily designated as responsible because there are substantial grounds for believing that there are systemic flaws in the asylum procedure and in the reception conditions for applicants in that Member State, resulting in a risk of inhuman or degrading treatment within the meaning of Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union”, and CJEU, C-411/10, NS v Secretary of State for the Home Department, December 21, 2011 and CJEU, C-493/10, ME and Others v Refugee Applications Commissioner, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, December 21, 2011.

 

4 Dublin Regulation (EU) No.604/2013 ('Dublin III'), Article 18 (2). “The Member State responsible shall examine or complete the examination of the application for international protection made by the applicant.… when the Member State responsible had discontinued the examination of an application… that Member State shall ensure that the applicant is entitled to request that the examination of his or her application be completed or to lodge a new application for international protection, which shall not be treated as a subsequent application”.

5 ECHR, Hirsi Jamaa and Others v. Italy, application no. 27765/09, February 23, 2012

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