Greece - Administrative Court of Appeal of Piraeus, 56/2016

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
30-09-2016
Citation:
Administrative Court of Appeal of Piraeus, 56/2016, Section A1
Court Name:
Administrative Court of Appeal of Piraeus, Section A1
National / Other Legislative Provisions:
Greece - PD 18/1989
Article 52(6)
Greece - PD 113/2013
Articles 2
Articles 18
Articles 20
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Headnote: 

The Court of Appeal rejected a request rebutting the presumption of Turkey as a safe third country for a Syrian national of Armenian origin who resided there for one year and held a work permit, on the ground that general references to human rights violations and deficiencies in Turkey’s asylum system did not suffice to establish a real and individualised risk of persecution or indirect refoulement to Syria.

Facts: 

The applicant, a Christian Syrian national of Armenian origin, entered Greece on 6 May 2016 and sought asylum on 13 May 2016. He was born in Syria in 1965 and has two children born in 2004 and 2006. His wife, children and mother were residing in Syria, and he has a brother who resides in France. He stayed in Turkey for approximately one year, during which he obtained a work permit and worked in Istanbul as a sculptor.

The Asylum Service dismissed his claim as inadmissible on 24 May 2016 on the ground that the applicant could submit an application in Turkey and benefit from protection equivalent to the protection afforded by the Refugee Convention, given that there was no fear of persecution. Following his appeal, the 11th Appeals Committee rejected his application at second instance on 2 June 2016, stating that Turkey was a safe country, as the applicant resided in the country for one year, worked for five employers and did not face any problems for reasons of his religion or ethnic origin; the only problem faced concerned back payments by one employer.

The applicant appealed against the Appeals Committee decision to request the suspension of the execution of the decision, rebutting the presumption of Turkey as a safe third country, due to (1) the historical enmity between Turkey and Armenians, (2) to its geographical limitation on the Refugee Convention, (3) to deficiencies in the implementation of its international human rights obligations, (4) to the non-implementation of the new asylum law, and (5) to the lack of requisite guarantees for the respect of the principle of non-refoulement.

Decision & Reasoning: 

The Court found that the applicant’s general reference to human rights violations in Turkey unrelated to his circumstances is not sufficient to establish that his life or freedom is threatened or that he faces a risk of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment. In accordance with Article 20 PD 113/2013, an assessment of a real and individualised risk for the applicant upon return to Turkey is required. Although he alleged that he would risk deportation to Syria upon return to Turkey and persecution for reasons of ethnicity and religion, the applicant did not mention any difficulties with the Turkish authorities during his residence in Turkey from 6 April 2015 to 6 May 2016 and has not clearly and specifically brought forward unlawful actions or omissions of the Turkish authorities which would objectively and subjectively substantiate a fear of real risk of persecution or return to Syria.

The general information submitted to the Court and statements of the applicant during his interview cannot be deemed as fulfilling the requisite conditions, since, according to his statements, he resided in Turkey for one year, held a work permit and a registration and health card as a Syrian refugee, faced no individual problems for reasons of his ethnicity or religion, and was not personally affected by police actions. Accordingly, the applicant’s well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of ethnicity or religion is not established. In its reasoning, the Court takes into account (1) the Letter of the Director-General of Migration and Home Affairs of 5 May 2016 finding that following legislative reforms Turkey offers sufficient protection to refugees in accordance with the Refugee Convention and respects the principle of non-refoulement, (2) the Letter of UNHCR of 4 May 2016 stating the UN’s efforts to monitor the situation of asylum seekers returned from Greece to Turkey, and (3) the Letter of UNHCR of 9 June 2016 mentioning that all Syrians voluntarily returning to Turkey until that date were successfully pre-registered as temporary protection beneficiaries.

Outcome: 

Application rejected. Suspension of return denied.

Observations/Comments: 

The Greek Council of Refugees commented on a previous decision of the Administrative Court of Appeal of Piraeus, rejecting a similar request for suspension of execution of a negative decision of the Appeals Committee on 4 July 2016. In that case, the Administrative Court of Mytilene granted temporary suspension of return proceedings on 27 September 2016.

Other sources cited: