New measures proposed by the EU further Violate Human Rights of Refugees in Greece.

Has Greece ever been under more pressure to resolve the growing challenges created by the influx of asylum seekers and migrants than during this week?

Two reports, with conflicting recommendations have been focused on Greece this week. One, in a hypercritical attempt to force Greece to resolve a situation which is undoubtedly and for the most part, caused by the EU-Turkey deal further compounded by the lack of solidarity from other EU countries to relocate people.

Fourth Report

This came to Greece in the form of the ‘fourth report with recommendations from Brussels on the progress made in the implementation of the EU Turkey deal’.

Action Plan

Let’s not forget the ‘action plan’ for Greece from Brussels as a result of the findings in the 4th report.

Experimental Procedures

In a second report this week, Greece has been presented with a report by ECRE which reveals serious challenges for Greece and deficiences in providing basic human rights in what ECRE quite rightly label as the ‘experimental’ implementation of the EU Turkey deal.

Resumption of Dublin III to Greece

Finally, just to pile on the pressure even more, the EU Commission announced a recommendation for the resumption of Dublin III returns to Greece from other member states for all people arriving irregularly from Greece to Europe from March 2017.

Greece is unable to make adequate provision for the basic needs of thousands of asylum seekers and migrants contained on the Aegean islands, or in camps and official reception facilities in mainland Greece.

The relocation programme has failed.The figures for relocation have reached just over 8,000 which is just five percent of the total pledge. Greece has been given a new totally unrealistic and unachievable target for relocation of 3,000 per month between now and April 2017. It is not at all clear how this is going to be achieved given that pledges are not likely to increase and nothing else has changed that is likely to increase relocation from Greece.

The EU Turkey deal is at a stalemate with Erdogan threatening to send 3000 refugees a day to Greece if his conditions aren’t met.

Conditions for asylum seekers in Greece are worse now than they were six years ago when the European court of Human Rights rules that returning asylum seekers to Greece would ‘violate the prohibition on inhuman and degrading treatment’. How can this decision possibly be justified?

Tough Measures Proposed by the EU for 2017

The ECRE report makes recommendations from a humanitarian stance, perfectly justified in view of the fact that they actually spent time talking to organisations on the front line, this is in stark contrast to the EU Commission who make their recommendations from the comfortable distance of Brussels and who are recommending further violations of human rights.

The European commission are recommending some tough measures in their report. Here’s a quick summary.

· That the Greeks make changes to their law with a view to enable the reunification of families back to Turkey under the admissibility procedure.

· That vulnerable cases, which are currently exempt from the border procedures and guaranteed not to be sent back to Turkey are to be considered eligible to be returned.

· That the right to a judicial appeal which is the next step after receiving a negative appeal decision is removed from Greek law as it has been in Italy.

· That refugees on the Islands should be segregated by nationality according to high or low rate of recognition and expedited out of Greece via the accelerated (fast track) procedures .

· That the creation of more ‘closed centres’ should be explored to ensure that the authorities know the whereabouts of refugees in order to complete their asylum applications.

· The IOM to ‘intensify campaigns’ to encourage more people to return to their country of origin or to Turkey.

· The Hellenic Police to issue return decisions at the same time as the notification of a negative first instance asylum decision which is BEFORE the appeal.

· Greece to ‘step up’ returns from the Islands to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

· That Greece should create more detention centres.

It is intolerable that, human rights organisations are calling for limits to detention, access to legal rights, assistance for Greece from the EU for the relocation for refugees, a ban on returns to Turkey, fair process for all asylum seekers regardless of nationality, increased access to lawyers and better treatment for vulnerable groups and the EU decides to make recommendations to Greece that further violate the human rights of refugees.

It is intolerable that the EU are relinquishing their fair share of responsibility in this crisis and heeping the burden onto Greece, one of the poorest members of the EU, by virtue of its’ geographical misfortune.

It is intolerable that, the impact of the EU recommendations, should they be imposed by Greece, will have catastrophic repercussions for desperate refugees seeking asylum.

The EU must be reminded of its role in ensuring that Europe UNITES for the benefit of all people in Europe.

We must take action against these proposed measures.

Sharon Silvey