Greece - 9th Appeals Committee, Decision 15602/2017, 29 September 2017

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
29-09-2017
Citation:
15602/2017
Court Name:
9th Appeals Committee
Keywords:
National / Other Legislative Provisions:
Greece - Article 15 PD 141/2013
Greece - Articles 54 and 56 L 4375/2016
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Headnote: 

Transit through a third country cannot be considered a sufficient connection for the purposes of the “safe third country” concept on the sole reason that the country is located in proximity to the country of origin. Other conditions, such as the length of stay or the existence of a supporting network, need to be present for such a connection to exist.

Facts: 

The applicant, an unmarried Syrian national whose parents have passed away and who has a nephew in Germany, entered Greece through the island of Samos on 18 November 2016. He had not entered Turkey before and, during his short stay there, did not work and had no friends or relatives, and did not seek international protection or legal residence.

His application was lodged on 27 November 2016 at the Regional Asylum Office of Samos and dismissed as inadmissible on 17 February 2017 on the ground that Turkey was a “safe third country” for him. The applicant appealed against the decision on the day it was served, 21 February 2017, stating that he left Turkey because he had nothing to do there and has been informed by friends travelling with him that he cannot lead a dignified live there, including finding employment.

Decision & Reasoning: 

The Appeals Committee recalled the requirement of a sufficient connection between an applicant and a third country for the “safe third country” concept to be applicable, under Article 56(2) L 4375/2016. In line with the Greek Council of State ruling 2347/2017, it held that transit through a third country, in conjunction with specific circumstances such as the length of stay of the geographical proximity of the country to the country of origin, may form a sufficient connection.

Transit per se, without the fulfilment of those specific conditions, may not be a coherent connection to a safe third country. The Committee added that the geographical proximity of a country to the country of origin cannot in itself justify a sufficient connection, in the absence of conditions such as a reasonable period of stay of the existence of a supporting network. To rule the contrary – that “transit” may solely be accompanied by proximity to the country of origin – would in fact result in asylum applications not being examined on an individualised basis, as expressly required by the law, but in all nationals of a country with such a “neighbouring third country” being treated in the same manner.

Since the applicant’s stay in Turkey was very short, not exceeding eight days, and no supporting friendly network exists, there is no coherent connection with Turkey based on which it would be reasonable for the applicant to relocate there. Accordingly, the Appeals Committee found that the application had been unlawfully dismissed as inadmissible by the Regional Asylum Office of Samos based on the existence of a safe third country.

Outcome: 

Appeal allowed, Regional Asylum Office decision quashed. 

Observations/Comments: 

The case is similar to another decision given by the 11th Appeals Committee (14011/2017) which again stated that there was an insufficient connection between the applicants (a family with four children) and Turkey.  As such their time spent in Turkey (15 days) was too short and didn't allow them the time to access services or to a reception centre; in fact they were denied access to the centre. Moreover, one of the children was denied medical care. The family didn't have any connections to the country, social, family or otherwise. Lastly passing through did not amount to a connection.

Both cases follow two decisions given by the Greek Council of State (2347/2017 and 2348/2017) on 22 September 2017. A summary of which can be found here

 

Case Law Cited: 

Greece - Council of State, Decision 2347/2017