Are You Syrious?
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Are You Syrious?

AYS Special from Greece: Protests on Samos CCAC shed light on procedural violations

On Monday 5th September, asylum seekers in the EU-funded Closed Control Access Centre (CCAC) on Samos held a protest against their treatment by the Greek authorities. Holding a banner that reads “Samos Camp — There is no Human Rights #saynorejections” the group demanded their human rights be respected, which includes having their claims for asylum fairly considered.

Procedural rights are principles enshrined in European law, which, in the asylum context, are intended to guarantee fair conditions for asylum seekers to present their claims for asylum

The EU Asylum Procedure Directive (2013/32/EU) enshrines “procedural guarantees safeguarding the rights of applicants, including providing adequate and timely information, being heard in a personal interview, free legal assistance, interpretation and representation”.

Denied access to information and counselling through detention

Asylum seekers “shall not be denied the opportunity to communicate with UNHCR or with any other organisation providing legal advice or other counselling” (Directive (2013/32/EU) Art. 12 (3)). The system of arbitrary detention in the CCAC, however, prevents asylum seekers from accessing information and advice.

Asylum seekers “shall not be denied the opportunity to communicate with UNHCR or with any other organisation providing legal advice or other counselling”

In order to leave the CCAC, asylum seekers need to receive their ‘red card’, a card which functions as an ID during the asylum procedure. Even though the Reception and Identification Service (RIS) of the CCAC registers asylum seekers shortly after they arrive (including their identity details and nationality), Greek asylum law allows further detention for up to 25 days for identification purposes. This detention is arbitrary, since applicants are already identified but still detained. Asylum seekers are often interviewed before they receive their ‘red card’ or so soon after that seeking legal advice or counselling is effectively denied.

Greek asylum law allows further detention for up to 25 days for identification purposes. This detention is arbitrary, since applicants are already identified but still detained

According to data from IHR, asylum seekers are detained for 12 days on average after being identified by the RIS. In addition, in 6% of IHR’s cases, people are detained for longer than 25 days before receiving their ‘red card’. Without the ‘red card’, applicants have no access to information and legal assistance outside the camp.

Inadequate vulnerability assessment

Greece is obliged to “take into account the specific situation of vulnerable persons” during the asylum procedure (Directive (2013/32/EU) Art. 21). In order to do so, Greek authorities “shall assess whether the applicant is an applicant in need of special procedural guarantees” (Directive (2013/33/EU) Art. 24 (1)). This assessment is often referred to as a vulnerability assessment.

In 2022, 42% of IHR beneficiaries met the legal category of vulnerability, with 26% being survivors of torture and 12% being survivors of human trafficking

Denial of the opportunity to present asylum claims in a comprehensive manner

Asylum interviews should be conducted in such a way that asylum seekers can “present the grounds for their applications in a comprehensive manner” (Directive (2013/32/EU) Art. 15 (3)). Despite Greece’s obligations, interviews are often conducted in a way that undermines asylum seekers’ ability to present their claims comprehensively.

The Greek authorities are creating unlawful obstacles to fair access to asylum

This systematic violation of the procedural rights of applicants is another step towards undermining the rights of asylum seekers in the CCAC on Samos. By denying access to information and counselling, proper assessment of vulnerability and interview conditions that allow asylum seekers to fully present their claim, the Greek authorities are creating unlawful obstacles to fair access to asylum.

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Are You Syrious?

News digests from the field, mainly for volunteers and people on the move, but also for journalists, decision makers and other parties.