Via Evrensel (Report in Turkish) – Amnesty International launched a campaign to end the refugee policy that holds refugees on the Greek islands. Because of the “Readmission Agreement” signed between the European Union and Turkey, the refugees who have been kept on Greek islands since 20 months and have not been given any permission to cross into mainland Greece, are trying to shelter in tents. They are exposed to the hardship when it comes to accessing basic needs such as clean water and health care services. Amnesty International Refugee Rights Coordinator Volkan Görendağ states that Amnesty International is launching a campaign to make the Greek government end its policy on the islands and allow asylum seekers to move to mainland Greece.
Via T24 (Link in Turkish) – The Greek government is preparing a legislative amendment, which includes the assessment of asylum requests of asylum seekers in the country. This legislative amendment, which is due to be discussed in parliament next week, is supposed to speed up the returning of asylum seekers to Turkey.
Via Ekathimerini – The Greek government is planning to amend a law governing the process of granting asylum to refugees next week! The aim is to accelerate the process of returning migrants to Turkey, which had been one of the goals of a deal that was struck last year between Ankara and the European Union but which is being inadequately enforced.
On Wednesday, Greece’s asylum service said its staff have processed 33,021 applications for asylum since March 2016, when the Turkey-EU deal was signed. The fact that rejected asylum claims are often appealed, and that reviews of those appeals take months, appears to be the main reason that thousands of applications remain pending, and thousands of migrants remain cooped up in state camps. Continue reading Greek gov’t aims to speed up migrant returns to Turkey
Via EurActiv – Greece will speed up the relocation of thousands of migrants from its overcrowded islands to the mainland before the onset of winter after reaching a deal with Turkey, a key ally in helping to tackle Europe’s migration crisis, government sources said yesterday (11 December).
Athens persuaded Ankara last week to accept migrant returns, including Syrian refugees, from the mainland and not just from the Aegean islands as previously agreed under a 2016 EU-Turkey pact, a government source told AFP. Continue reading Greece to speed up migrant transfer after Turkey deal
Via No Border Kitchen Lesvos – Two brothers from Nigeria who made the deadly crossing from Turkey to Lesvos in a rubber dinghy were immediately detained in the pre-removal prison inside the so-called “Hotspot camp”, Moria. For almost three months they were isolated from society, adequate legal assistance or support structures. All refugees from countries with less than 33% acceptance rate (which are more than 28 countries including Syrian single men) can currently be detained immediately after their arrival on Lesvos, for the entire duration of their asylum procedure. While the two brothers were held in detention, their asylum application was rejected twice under the fast-track border procedure implemented on the Greek islands since the EU-Turkey statement of March 18th 2016. It has been repeatedly pointed out by the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights and lawyers such as those from the Legal Centre Lesbos that the fast-track procedure tramples roughshod over human rights. In practice, individuals are targeted because of their nationality and stripped of their legal right to a fair and proper asylum hearing.
In the frame of a research project coordinated by the University of Utrecht on the impact of the EU-Turkey Statement for refugees in Turkey and Greece a new policy paper was published! This part focuses on the situation for refugees once returned to Turkey:
“This policy brief examines whether asylum seekers readmitted from Greece to Turkey after the EU-Turkey Statement as of April 2016 were able to access effective protection in Turkey thereafter. The EU has long collaborated with countries of origin and transit in the form of migration compacts, readmission agreements and Memoranda of Understanding. The EU-Turkey Statement is different from prior forms of agreements because of the use of the safe-third-country concept. As a result, Greece can reject asylum applications of people who passed through Turkey as being inadmissible and shift the responsibility of merit assessments to Turkey.”
Turkey’s state run news agency Anadolu Agency reports that the anti-migrant smuggling police freed 57 Pakistani migrants in Istanbul. They were being held chained in their hands and feet in a basement of a building in Istanbul’s Arnavutköy district, apparently bound for Europe. The police arrest three suspected smugglers, also nationals from Pakistan. According to Arab News, some of the migrants had been tortured.
According to the police, the migrants had paid a total of 10.000 € to the smugglers to be brought to Greece and Italy, but that didnt happen:
“They were then chained and forced to tell their families that they had arrived Europe in order to receive codes for an alternative “Hawala” two-factor verification payment system, Doğan News Agency reported.”
Now, after being ‘rescued‘ by the police, the 57 migrants – who escaped Pakistan, and were in Turkey to continue they were towards Europe – will be deported to Pakistan! So instead of offering safety after what they have been through, the state decides to deport them, probably into another situation of high insecurity.
The three suspected organizers will be referred to court following questioning at the police headquarters.
On Thursday, 23rd November 2017, the deportation of two migrants was stopped last minute. The two men from Iran and Afghanistan were held in detention on Lesvos Island. Shortly before they were transported to the harbour of Mytilene to be quietly deported to Turkey via ferry, lawyers and activists managed to intervene and stop the deportation of the two men. Eight other people from Haiti, Tunisia, Afghanistan and Pakistan were however deported and will be detained in Turkey, among them a family with a small child.
For the two cases that were stopped, there were serious doubts about the lawfulness of the deportation practice. Alireza Kamran from Iran is suffering from severe health problems while Tarik Chian from Afghanistan was prevented from exhausting his legal remedies in Greece. The names and cases of the other deportees were not known to the lawyers and activists monitoring the deportation. Therefore the legality of their deportation cannot be assessed but it is doubted that the persons concerned have received sufficient support to challenge second instance rejections.
Turkey’s state-run news agency ‘Anadolu Agency’ reports on Friday that more 258 migrants have been arrested during anti-trafficking operations in provinces of Aydin, Mugla, Edirne and Hatay when they either tried to reach Europe or attempted to enter Turkey using illegal routes. Continue reading AA: More than 250 undocumented migrants held in Turkey
Via University of Oxford / Faculty of Law – Today, Turkey is host to approximately 3.4 million refugees and asylum seekers, including more than 3.2 million Syrians. Due to its strategic location, Turkey has been a transit country for migrants and refugees, a necessary stop on their way to Europe. In 2015, nearly one million people arrived irregularly in Europe by sea, with more than 856,723 refugees and migrants traveling to Greece by sea from Turkey. This explains why cooperation with the Turkish government has become an essential part of the European policy to manage migration.