What does Athens have to do with Dublin? Well, Greece is the primary entry point for “irregular migrants” (refugees and illegal immigrants); the Dublin II Regulation is the common European asylum law. The European asylum system is a mess. Period. From my perspective (I’m not a politician, but on-the-ground working with refugees in Greece), the system works to protect the interests of wealthy northern and central European nations, using nations such as Greece as a protective buffer, and almost completely ignoring the needs and safety of refugees! Maybe that sounds harsh. Well… it’s my honest perspective. But it’s not just my opinion. Amnesty International (an international human rights organization) agrees. They’ve recently published a report on the Dublin II Regulation and the situation in Greece. Here are their conclusions:
As highlighted in this report, asylum-seekers transferred under this piece of EU legislation face a range of human rights violations due to Greece’s failure to meet its obligations under human rights and refugee law. Until such time as these are remedied, state parties to the Regulation risk breaching their own obligations by sending asylum-seekers to a country which is unable to effectively protect their rights. Amnesty International has serious concerns about the risk of refoulement [i.e. returning an asylum seeker to his or her country of origin], occurring through failings in the asylum system in Greece, including through the obstacles faced by individuals in accessing the asylum system; the absence of fair examinations of asylum claims, particularly after the entry into force of new legislation that abolishes an effective appeals procedure; the lack of access to legal counselling, interpretation services and information about the asylum procedure; and the lack of a specialized/competent body to decide on asylum claims. The current practice of expulsion to Turkey of people, who might have applied for asylum, creates a further risk of indirect or “chain” refoulement. In addition, the lack of accommodation facilities and inadequate access to healthcare impact on their economic and social rights.
Until such time as the reality of the vastly disparate standards of protection across the EU is addressed, in a coordinated and concerted way, asylum-seeker who are unfortunate enough to have Greece as their first port of call will face being left outside the refugee protection system and serious risks to their human rights and safety.
Want to go deeper? Download and read the entire report HERE.