Court to rule on Turkey’s ‘safe’ sta­tus

Coun­cil of State hears ap­peal of two Syr­i­ans against Brus­sels-Ankara mi­grant deal

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Greece’s high­est ad­min­is­tra­tive court is ex­pected to rule later this month on whether Turkey can be con­sid­ered a safe coun­try for refugees be­ing re­turned un­der a deal with the Euro­pean Union.

The Coun­cil of State’s ple­nary yes­ter­day heard ar­gu­ments based on the ap­peal of two Syr­ian na­tion­als whose asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tions were re­jected by the Greek Asy­lum Com­mit­tee. The Syr­i­ans’ lawyers ar­gued that the re- jec­tion is a vi­o­la­tion of the UN Char­ter of Hu­man Rights and the Geneva Con­ven­tion as the com­mit­tee based its de­ci­sion solely on Turkey’s as­sur­ances, without a proper as­sess­ment of con­di­tions in the neigh­bor­ing coun­try.

Another plain­tiff act­ing on their be­half, the Greek Coun­cil for Refugees, has also raised ques­tions re­gard­ing the par­tial­ity of the judges serv­ing on the Asy­lum Com­mit­tee’s pan­els.

The ap­peal comes af­ter seven judges at the Coun­cil of State’s Fourth Cham­ber ruled in fa­vor of the Asy­lum Com­mit­tee’s de­ci­sion, say­ing that Turkey’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Geneva Con­ven­tion de­fines it as a safe coun­try.

If the ple­nary upholds the Syr­i­ans’ ap­peal, this could un­der­mine the deal signed be­tween the Euro­pean Union and Turkey a year ago for the lat­ter to take back re­jected asy­lum claimants in ex­change for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance.

In a re­lated de­vel­op­ment, the In­ter­na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Mi­gra­tion yes­ter­day pub­lished data show­ing that from the start of this year to March 8, the num­ber of mi­grants and refugees that crossed into Greece came to 2,724. Of those ar­rivals, 1,521 were recorded in Jan­uary and 1,091 in Fe­bru­ary, a re­mark­able drop from the 134,048 ar­rivals recorded in the same two-month pe­riod last year.

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