Sunday, 19 July 2009

UNHCR Protest New Greek Asylum Process

The Office of the United Nations for Refugees (UNHCR) said Friday it was withdrawing from the procedures* used in Greece to grant asylum to migrants applying in protest against new rules set by Athens.

In a press release the UNHCR said it "notes with great concern that the structural changes introduced by the new Presidential Decree 81/2009 do not sufficiently guarantee efficiency and fairness of the refugee status determination procedure in Greece as required by International and European legislation."

"The new PD decentralises asylum decision making at first instance to over 50 police directorates across the country which are faced with serious shortcomings related with expert personnel, interpretation services and legal aid. It also abolishes the existing appeals’ board, which was the decision-making body at second instance, and only maintains a limited judicial review before the Council of State, thus not guaranteeing the right to en “effective remedy”. Furthermore by designating the Alternate Minister of Public Order as the decision-making authority for the pending appeals (backlog), it would not be compatible with EU Legislation that requires an independent organ from the first instance decision-making body."

“These new developments are likely to make protection in Greece even more elusive for those who need it,” stated Laurens Jolles, UNHCR Regional Representative.

* The Advisory Refugee Committees for the examination of the asylum claims at first instance and the Advisory Appeals’ Committees for the examination of the backlog of some 30,000 pending asylum appeals.

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