Ministry of Citizen Protection wants to reduce number of asylum seekers in Greece no matter what

The Greek government obviously is trying by all means – legal or illegal – to reduce the numbers of asylum seekers in Greece and parallel to increase the recognition rate. Obviously they are developing all kinds of tricks to achieve their aim and to show Europe the “progress” they are expected to make.

Since the beginning of the transitional period that will last until the implementation of the asylum law – planned until January 2012, there are five second instance asylum committees examining both new asylum claims and old ones from the huge backlog. The proudly presented increase of asylum recognition rates to 12,35% is a game of numbers though. It includes mainly second instance decisions and all kinds of status (asylum, humanitarian and subsidiary). Having a backlog of more than 35.000 open asylum claims it is not really difficult to find good cases in order to increase the asylum recognition rate suddenly. While it is a fact that the second instance asylum committees themselves present an immense improve in the asylum process due to their improved quality, statistics of recognition rates have to be analysed carefully.

However, the remaining backlog of asylum claims is disturbing the image of progress in Greek asylum policy. Thus, the Ministry of Citizen Protection has developed a variety of tricks to further decrease the number of asylum seekers in Greece. In October it announced that asylum seekers who had not been able to renew their papers since June 2009 would be given a period of two months in order to get back their Pink Cards. Anyway, taking into consideration the severe difficulties in entering the Aliens Police in Athens it is nearly impossible to actually make the renewal of the temporary residence permit for asylum seekers. Thus, there will be a huge group of asylum seekers who will fall out of the asylum process and whose files will be closed if they do not manage to enter the Aliens Police.
The respective announcement of the Ministry said:

Announcement on renewal of asylum-seekers’ pink cards: Asylum-seekers holding a pink card which has expired since June 2009 are requested to proceed to the authorities responsible for receiving and examining asylum claims in order to renew their pink cards, within a period of two (2) months, from 5 October 2011 to 5 December 2011 (inclusive). In case of failing to show up within this deadline the examination of their cases will be withdrawn.

Additionally, the police started to arrest illegaly in sweep operation in the Athens centre asylum seekers with Pink Cards. Despite the fact that many of them had been given already a date for their asylum interview they proceeded their interviews immediately in an accelerated process. Thereby the asylum seekers were not informed that what was following was their asylum interview, the interviews did not exceed 30 minutes in any case, they were made sometimes in languages the asylum seekers could not understand, the asylum seekers were not given time to prepare themselves for the interview or to contact the UNHCR or any other NGO who could provide them with legal aid and they were not informed about the procedure and their rights concerning the appeal against the decision in case of a rejection. GCR Press Release on the 2nd of November 2011

As it seems, the Greek government is trying to proceed as many asylum cases as possible in the shortest period of time possible whatever it takes. Are these the achievements of the National Action Plan?