June 18, 2021

Greece approves a new reform of the Asylum Law with more restrictive measures

The Greek Parliament approved on Friday a new reform of the Asylum Law, which modifies some of the regulations approved half a year ago to make the examination of international protection claims more streamlined.

The double objective of the law is that “substantially reduce migration flows and mitigate the effects of the crisis on local communities” and that “Greece ceases to be an attractive country for migration,” said the Minister of Migration, during the debate. MP who started last Wednesday.

This new amendment to the law establishes, among other things, the operating rules of the closed centers that will replace the current camps on the islands where nearly 40,000 people live in spaces designed to accommodate 6,000.

The provisions of the law, which have sparked criticism from dozens of humanitarian organizations – including Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders and Human Rights 360 – reduce the time limit to appeal a rejection of an asylum application to just two days and generalize the detention of applicants.

Another restrictive measure is that, in the event of “massive arrivals”, the commission that examines applications in the second degree – made up of three judges – can be replaced by a single judge.

It also eliminates, with retroactive effect from January 1, the right of applicants whose claims have been rejected, to receive residence permits for humanitarian reasons, mainly people with serious health problems.

The obligation of the Police to examine each case of asylum seeker individually and justify their decision in writing before decreeing their administrative detention is also eliminated.

In the new “multifunctional” centers, as the Government calls them, there will be detention centers, spaces for minors, and also an open but guarded part that will allow them to leave the field at a time defined by the director of the place.

The Government has also decided at the end of this year to end the accommodation programs for asylum seekers in hotels and apartments rented by the State.

Both programs, managed by UNHCR, are funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (FAMI), do not imply any cost to the Greek State and currently help more than 30,000 people.

With this decision, the Government yields to pressure from the extreme right, which is carrying out a violent campaign against these programs in the continental part of the country, and to pressure from mayors related to New Democracy who do not want the presence of refugees in their municipalities.

In addition, as of June, all people who have already received refugee status and continue to live in apartments, flats and camps in the mainland of the country, will have to leave their accommodation and will no longer receive the planned aid for asylum seekers. .

This decision can leave thousands of people homeless and without recourse, since the law that came into effect in January stipulates that people recognized as refugees have the right to access the labor market just six months after obtaining asylum.


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