National Commission for Human Rights Urges Greek Gov’t to Lift Suspension of Asylum Applications

March 5, 2020

ATHENS – The National Commission for Human Rights on Thursday called on the Greek government to revoke a decision to temporarily suspend asylum applications and automatically return irregular new arrivals to their country of origin or transit.

In an announcement on Thursday, the Commission said that the right to asylum and the prohibition of refoulement “constitute a fundamental pillar of refugee law and of the universal principles for the protection of human rights on which the international and European community have been built.” It also noted that “there are no clauses for deviating from the implementation of the above documents in conditions of emergency, such as in national security and public health”.

The Commission asked that the Greek government transfer asylum seekers to the Greek mainland and ensure that they have decent living conditions, while urging the representatives of national and local authorities to show wisdom and unity, “abandoning rhetoric that triggers xenophobic reflexes”. It further asked the Greek police and Greek justice to investigate complaints of excessive use of force by the police and of racist attacks targeting newly arrived refugees and migrants, NGO staff and journalists.

Finally, it called the EU-Turkey agreement “essentially void as it proved impossible to implement in practice, was inefficient and a factor triggering a restriction of the rights” of asylum seekers and the islanders. For this reason, the Commission urged EU member-states to re-examine European migration and asylum policy as a whole, recognising the de facto abolition of the EU-Turkey agreement and proceeding with the reform of the common European asylum system.


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