The Greek Parliament approved the new asylum law of the Conservative Government on Friday, which aims to accelerate asylum examinations and returns to countries of origin, and has generated a wave of criticism among social organizations for the obstacles it puts to Obtain international protection.
“The asylum law sends a clear message to those who know they have no right to asylum but try to enter our country they will return to their land,” said Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who stressed that open the doors It is not an option.
Both the analysis of asylum requests and the returns framed in the joint European Union (EU) Turkey March 2016 agreement are done very slowly and on occasion have been blocked, which has complicated the process and left to thousands of people waiting for a decision.
With this law, the Government wants to dissuade the so-called “economic migrants” to expedite the process of those who do qualify for asylum.
Since March 2016, up to 2,000 returns have been made to Turkey Mitsotakis government has promised to deport 10,000 people until the end of 2020 to decongest the islands. In September they returned 7 people.
A provision of the Law closely related to expulsions is the creation, for the first time in Greece of a list of safe third countries.
It is not yet known which ones will be included although it does provide that they grant adequate protection to people sent from Greece instead of “effective protection”, as defined in international law. Several NGOs have expressed concern that this difference does not guarantee the safety of the transferred.
In addition, asylum claims filed before March 2016 are still pending resolution. They will only be examined if the applicants confirm that they are still interested in receiving international protection in Greece within 6 months.
According to the Greek Asylum Service in the first 8 months of the year more than 11,100 people received refugee status or subsidiary protection in Greece. Since 2015, some 45,300 people have seen their asylum claims accepted.
The Minister of Citizen Protection, Mijalis Jrisojoidis, whose ministry depends on immigration management, explained today in Parliament that the reform is necessary because there are 70,000 asylum applications pending consideration and that the process takes about two and a half years to complete. In addition there are 14,000 appeals to examine and this process also takes more than two years.
Although many social organizations agree that the process of examining lawsuits should be streamlined, it has been criticized that the measures introduced unprotect plaintiffs because they are especially punitive and facilitate the rejection of cases without being fully studied.
Mitsotakis defended in Parliament that this reform is the first compact law on international protection that brings together laws, a presidential decree and various provisions and directives while harmonizing them with community law.
Since being elected in July, the Conservative Government has insisted that the problem facing Greece comes from “migratory pressures” and not from arrivals of refugees or persons entitled to this type of protection. However, most of the shelters after landing in the Aegean come from Afghanistan (37%), Syria (19%) and Iraq (8%).
There are currently more than 35,000 migrants and refugees living in the Aegean Islands in places with a capacity to accommodate about 7,000. More than 10,000 arrived only last September.
Those who arrived this summer are also mostly Afghans and Syrians presumably because of the increased tension and instability in those countries.
In this regard, Turkey’s decisions are especially delicate for Greece, especially after its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, threatened that if the EU or its member states criticized its operation in Syria, it would terminate the joint declaration and allow some 3.6 million people reach European territory.
Although the great success of the declaration was the drastic reduction of arrivals to the Greek coast, in recent months they have increased exponentially until 10,000 last September.
“Time is pressing We are running against the clock because boats do not stop arriving on the islands. As the days go by, more and more arrive, because that is what the neighboring country has decided,” said Jrisojoidis.