Migration and Struggle in Greece

Austria restricts transfer of asylum seekers to Greece

Posted by clandestina on 28 October 2010

Vienna – Austria’s Constitutional Court has restricted the the practice of sending asylum seekers back to Greece, because of that country’s difficulties with caring for migrants, the judges announced Wednesday.

According to the UN, Greece’s detention and police systems are in crisis, as authorities are overwhelmed by an influx of up to 400 illegal immigrants per day.

The court’s verdict makes it more difficult to ship back vulnerable asylum seekers, including mothers with children, to Greece under the EU’s ‘Dublin II’ regulation. This rule says that applications for asylum should be heard in the first EU state the migrant enters.

The court ordered authorities to get individual guarantees from Athens that specific migrants would be cared for. The decision also applies to sick people and unaccompanied minors.

The judges had accepted an appeal by an Afghan woman who faced deportation to Greece under the Dublin rule, together with her three small children.

‘Because of the undisputed difficult care situation for asylum seekers in Greece, this transfer could lead to a violation of article 3 of the Convention on Human Rights,’ the court said, referring to the convention’s ban on inhumane or degrading treatment.

A handful of European Union countries including Britain and Norway have already suspended the return of asylum seekers to Greece for similar reasons.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, urged EU states last week to follow suit.

On Sunday, the European Commission announced the first-ever deployment of an EU rapid intervention border team, to help stem the growing tide of illegal immigrants to Greece.

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