Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Now Belgium stops sending asylum seekers back to Greece

Source: ECRE

Belgium’s Secretary of State for asylum, Melchior Wathelet, has announced that Belgium will not transfer asylum seekers to Greece and will give priority to the examination of these asylum claims. Amnesty International, CIRE, the Belgian Committee for Aid to Refugees, ECRE, JRS-Belgium and Flemish Refugee Action welcomed this decision but demanded a complete revision of the Dublin Regulation, which allows refugees to be sent back to countries that do not provide sufficient protection.

The UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, has also called this week on the EU to stop transfers of asylum seekers to Greece and to renegotiate the Dublin II Regulation.

Belgium’s decision follows the reception of a letter in which the European Court of Human Rights states that pending the adoption of its judgment in MSS v. Belgium and Greece - which assesses whether sending asylum seekers back to Greece violate the European Human Rights Convention-, all transfers will be temporarily suspended in any case where an asylum seeker challenges his or her return to Greece.

The UK and Norway have also stopped tranfers to Greece and are applying the sovereignty clause and therefore assuming the examination of these asylum applications. The Netherlands is suspending transfers for those who appeal the decision.

ECRE supports the establishment of a mechanism to suspend transfers of asylum seekers to states that cannot guarantee a full and fair examination of their claims or proper receptions standards. Suspension should also be accompanied by supporting measures that seek to rectify the asylum situation in a Member State.

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