Greek Court Says Turkey Safe for Migrant Deportations

FILE - An employee of the International Organization for Migration picks clothes from a fence during a police operation to evacuate an unused terminal building of the old international airport, which is used as a shelter for about 600 refugees and migrants, in Athens, Friday, June 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS – Despite international human rights groups condemnation of Turkey’s justice system and human trafficking operations, a Greek court has found it is a safe country and that migrants who reached Greece can be sent back.

Ironically, the ruling is at odds with another court which found that Turkey isn’t safe for the extradition of eight Turkish soldiers who fled a coup attempt against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who wants the death penalty restored.

Erdogan let traffickers ship hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants who landed in Turkey after fleeing wars and strife in the Middle East and other regions ship them to Greek islands, where most reached other countries before the European Union shut its doors.

That dumped the problem on Greece during a simultaneously crushing economic crisis and flooded the country with more than 64,000 refugees and migrants, a combination of those running for their lives and others seeking better economic conditions and jobs.

There are some 14,000 on Greek islands, stuck in detention centers and camps for up to two years while asylum applications were being processed and as Greece complained the European Union has done too little to help.

Greece’s Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, paved the way for the deportations in finding Turkey a safe haven for the refugees and migrants who fled there in hopes of landing in the EU.

The court said the migrants don’t face a risk of torture, inhumane treatment, or punishment in Turkey, Kathimerini reported,  although they said they did and were fearful of being returned and left there unless shipped back to the countries they fled in the first place.

It issued its decision in response to an appeal lodged by two Syrian men who had their asylum applications rejected and were fighting deportation to Turkey.