(Athens) – Plans to resume returns of asylum seekers to Greece put the rights of thousands of people at risk, Human Rights Watch said today. The move demonstrates once again the European Union’s failure to uphold its human rights obligations and share responsibility for refugees.
The European Commission announced on December 8, 2016, that EU countries should be able to gradually return asylum seekers to Greece under EU asylum rules, as of mid-March 2017. National courts in a number of EU states have blocked returns to Greece after the European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2011 that deficiencies in the Greek asylum system and its degrading treatment of migrant detainees meant it was not safe to return asylum seekers there. The EU’s own Court of Justice has also ruled against transfers.
“It’s astonishing that the European Commission thinks asylum seekers should be sent back to Greece, where thousands are already suffering as a direct consequence of the EU’s policies,” said Eva Cossé, Greece researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Instead of adding to Greece’s burden, EU governments and institutions should be working to alleviate it, by relocating asylum seekers from Greece to other EU countries.”