23 January 2015

On Wednesday 21 January, the newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger reported that the German Interior Minister, Thomas de Maiziere, has instructed Germany’s Office for Migration and Asylum (BAMF) not to return asylum seekers to Greece for a further year.

According to the newspaper, Minister de Maiziere wrote to the Chairs of the interior and petitions committees of the German parliament that the decision was based on the fact that, despite progress in the construction of a functioning refugee protection regime, the Greek asylum system still had shortcomings, in that “the treatment of asylum seekers does not always meet European standards.”

This means that, for the fourth consecutive year, Germany will not return asylum seekers to Greece, even if Greece would be deemed responsible for the examination of the asylum claim according to the hierarchy of criteria established by the EU Dublin Regulation. In January 2011, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found  in M.S.S. v Belgium & Greece that the removal of an Afghan asylum seeker from Belgium to Greece under the Dublin II Regulation was a violation of the prohibition of ill-treatment, and the right to an effective remedy as laid out in the European Convention on Human Rights on account of detention conditions for asylum seekers, deficiencies in the Greek asylum procedure, and inadequate reception conditions.

In June 2014, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe decided to continue supervision of Greece concerning its implementation of the judgment, as it remained unconvinced that the Greek asylum system is fully compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights.

EU Member States do not currently return asylum seekers to Greece under the Dublin Regulation but NGOs have documented pushbacks of migrants and asylum seekers from the Italian Adriatic ports to Greece, under a readmission agreement between the two countries.


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 This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 23 January 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.