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(Athens) – The Greek Parliament should resist external pressures and reject any changes to legislation based on the European Commission’s Joint Action Plan for the EU-Turkey agreement, that will further worsen the situation for people seeking safety and a better life in Europe, 13 nongovernmental organizations said today in an open letter.

As the Greek Parliament is expected to vote within the coming days on these changes, the organizations are calling on Greek Members of Parliament not to support amendments to Greek Law 4375/2016 already published in the EU Joint Action Plan that will remove safeguards for vulnerable people and families. The parliament should stand by the protections enshrined in Greece’s current asylum legislation by making sure that most vulnerable persons and those eligible for family reunification under the Dublin Regulation are exempted from accelerated admissibility procedures aimed at sending them back to Turkey.

Removing existing safeguards for vulnerable people and those with prospects for family reunification in other EU member states would mean keeping more people on the already overcrowded islands and putting further undue pressure on the islands’ population. The result would be the creation of more detention centers, fast-tracking asylum proceedings, and limiting appeals steps, all with the goal of facilitating deportations, and possibly sending people into harm’s way.

The  organizations  urged  Parliament to make Greece an example of a country willing to uphold the human rights of and protection for people seeking safety and security in Europe, and not to allow Greece be used as a laboratory for testing migration policies at the expense of the most vulnerable.

“Greek members of parliament have a responsibility to make sure that the rights of everyone in Greece are protected, including of vulnerable asylum seekers,” said Eva Cosse, Greece researcher at Human Rights Watch. “That means rejecting plans that will further worsen the situation for people seeking refuge in Europe.” 

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