Greek Court Rules Asylum Seekers Can Be Deported to Turkey
Asylum seekers can be safely sent back to Turkey under the 2016 E.U.-Turkey deal, according to Greece’s Council of State, a ruling that Amnesty International warned could set an “ominous precedent.”
The decision came after two Syrian men lodged appeals contesting their deportation to Turkey when Greece rejected their asylum applications.
Deported refugees are not at risk of torture, violence or cruel or degrading treatment if sent to Turkey, the Greek court said.
John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe director, warned that Turkey was not a “safe third country,” especially for Syrian refugees who are at risk of “unlawful returns” from Turkey to Syria.
“These decisions breach a very clear principle – Greece and the E.U. should not be sending asylum seekers and refugees back to a country in which they cannot get effective protection,” Dalhuisen added.
Second Group From Australia’s Offshore Centers Heads to U.S.
The U.S. is preparing to accept a second group of around 30 refugees from Australia’s offshore detention centers under an Obama-era resettlement deal.
A first group of 22 men from Bangladesh, Sudan and Myanmar (Rohingya people) left one of the detention centers on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea on September 24. They are expected to fly to the U.S. on Tuesday.
Beverly Thacker, public affairs officer for the U.S. embassy in Papua New Guinea, said the second group would shortly leave from the other detention center on Nauru and travel to the U.S. on September 27.
“We expect that other refugees will be resettled in the coming months. They will all proceed with different time frames, depending on how fast they will get through the process,” she added.
Under the deal, the U.S. will resettle up to 1,250 refugees held on Nauru and Manus Island and Australia will accept Central American refugees in exchange.
Less Than One-Third of E.U. Countries Have Met Refugee Relocation Quotas
Less than one-third of E.U. countries have met their quotas for resettling refugees from Italy and Greece, Amnesty International said as the two-year deadline for refugee arrivals to be eligible for the scheme passed.
Poland and Hungary have accepted no asylum seekers to date, while Slovakia has taken in 16 asylum seekers of its quota of 902 and the Czech Republic only 12 out of a quota of 2,691.
The only country to fulfill its quota is Malta, though Norway and Lichtenstein, which voluntarily joined the relocation plan for 120,000 refugees who arrived in Italy and Greece, have kept their promises to “relocate 1,500 and 10 respectively.”
Iverna McGowan, director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office, said countries have “failed” refugees by “shirking their responsibilities and leaving thousands abandoned in Italy and Greece.”
McGowan warned the plan “is a legal obligation. E.U. countries must now step up and make good on the promises they made, or risk being taken to the European Court and potentially facing tough penalties.”
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