Greek Citizens Will Have Say on Refugee Asylum

FILE - In this Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, file photo, refugees and migrants wait to embark in police and military vans on a highway near the northeastern Greek village of Thourio, at the Greek-Turkish border. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, file)

ATHENS – The new New Democracy’s plan to speed asylum and deportations to Turkey of refugees and migrants in Greece deemed ineligible for sanctuary will go to the public for consultation and review too.

The legislation, according to ruling New Democracy sources quoted by the state-run Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA), has been streamlined into a single, “user-friendly” document covering all stages of the process, from identification to the terms of approval or dismissal of an asylum claim.

It’s aimed mostly, however, at speeding returns to Turkey – which let human traffickers keep sending refugees and migrants to Greek islands during an essentially-suspended swap deal with the European Union.

The new system would not allow appeals of reject asylum claims as virtually all of the more than 78,000 people in detention centers and camps are seeking to stay in Greece, with the EU closing its borders to them, not wanting to be sent back to Turkey, where they had first gone fleeing war and strife and economic hardship in their own countries.

The legislation also ends recognition of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a valid basis for an asylum claim, unless it is backed by ample medical evidence and would allow asylum boards’ rulings and decisions to be delivered to a legal representative of an applicant who can’t be found.

The New Democracy bill also abolishes the right to temporary residence and work permits if a claim is rejected at the first degree to also help prevent refugees and migrants who aren’t in camps or centers from spreading out around the country to avoid being caught.

The legislation is also geared toward weeding out economic migrants from those running away from war, such as those who fled Syria during the ongoing civil war, and war-torn Afghanistan, giving them preference.

Under the new rules, the movement of refugees and migrants would also be restricted and anyone protesting their transfer to another facility from a reception center or objecting to any other part of the system, for example, would lose the right to apply for asylum.

Applicants also have to remain at official camps or other accommodation for the duration of the process so that they can be located in the event that their application is rejected and they are slated for deportation.

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