UNHCR asks the Greek Government to review the measure for prolonged administrative detention

15 April 2014

UNHCR is following with great concern the developments in the policy and practice of administrative detention for foreign nationals for whom a return order was issued. A decision was taken recently resulting in extending detention beyond the maximum period allowed by the European Return Directive (18 months). This is likely to have a direct impact also on persons under UNHCR’s mandate, particularly on persons seeking international protection.

Inside pre-removal centres and other police detention facilities, where foreign nationals are detained with a view to be deported, there are also asylum seekers, some of whom are eventually recognized as refugees. There are also foreign nationals that, according to the authorities, cannot be forcibly returned, such as Somalis and Eritreans. The detention of these persons, pending removal, is unfounded when the return is not possible.

Specifically for asylum seekers, detention should be resorted to only exceptionally and alternatives to detention need to be thoroughly considered. UNHCR believes that any decision to extend this measure (prolonged detention beyond 18 months) also to asylum seekers is inconsistent with Greek law governing the specific prerequisites and the duration of detention for asylum seekers, and should not be applied.

UNHCR asks the Greek Government to review the decision resulting in the prolongation of detention beyond 18 months for all foreign nationals who are subject to return and whose removal has not been carried out yet. Instead, UNHCR recommends applying the relevant procedures provided by the Greek law, i.e. the issuance of decisions for the “postponement of removal” in this case. Moreover, as per obligation by European and national law, detention for the purposes of return should be imposed only as a last resort.

source: unhcr.gr