Taking stock of the new asylum procedure in Greece: The selective application of new asylum law in Greece

The reform of the Greek Asylum Procedure was welcomed by Europe in the beginning of 2011. We ask: Is it really an improvement?

As far as one can observe until now the new asylum law is only selectively being applied. Additionally, the new procedures confront severe practical obstacles. We have not seen any improvement for refugees in Greece only a worsening of the situation. Migration and asylum policy are the very heart of the civil society and the state. Can we afford to look the other way and ignore severe human rights abuses of the most vulnerable parts of our society? There is a great importance in denouncing the continuance of human rights violations and, thus, in fighting against a European propaganda that will soon enough again beautify and mask the tragic reality of refugee life in Greece in order to protect the Dublin II regulation and start again the returns/ deportations of refugees back to Greece.

Some key-issues:

The asylum system
– the independent committees deciding on appeals on the rejection of the asylum claim have run out of ink and can not work. the 40.000 open asylum claims will not be proceeded soon, due to these kind of ‘technical’ and ‘financial’ obstacles.
– the European Asylum Support office has sent teams to support the Greek committees, while obviously recognising the incapability of the new system to function as planned

The screening centres
– the detention conditions in Evros prefecture at the landborders between Greece and Turkey has not improved despite the many critics and condemnations from the European Court of Human rights, CPT, Nowak etc.
– plans affecting the “new screening centres” are only being partially realised: the detention conditions and the lack of access to basic rights remain the same, while the government sent medical stuff, interpreters and social workers to show some steps of improvement
– nevertheless, the militarisation of the border gets intensified, the weapons of European protectionism modernised and a legal machinery of deportation (increased readmissions and joint deportation flights with Frontex) is on the rise with a growing cross-border co-operation concerning Readmission Agreements
– representatives of the Greek Ministry of the Protection of the Citizen even demand the expansion of the co-operation with Frontex – specifically their “support” in the procedure of readmissions
– the new screening system is totally failing: under the degrading detention conditions and the increased length of detention (6 months) no screening or asylum system is feasible; the majority of sans-papiers are wrongly registered (nationality and age) and, thus, put systematically into the danger of readmission and deportation