Greece - Council of State, 17 July 2006, Application No. 700/2006

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
17-06-2006
Citation:
Application No. 700/2006
Court Name:
Suspension Committee of the Council of State
National / Other Legislative Provisions:
Greece - Αρθρο 52 Προεδρικό Διάταγμα 18/1989 (Art 52 of Presidential Decree 18/1989)
Greece - Act 2712/1999
Greece - Presidential Decree No. 61/1999
Greece - Αναγκαστικός Νόμος 389/1968 (Φύλλο Εφημερίδας Κυβερνήσεως 125 Τεύχος Α) (Emergency Act)
Greece - Άρθρα 24 του ν. 1975/1991 (Art 24 of Act 1975/1991)
Greece - Act 1975/1991 - Article 25
Greece - Άρθρα 1 του νόμου 2452/1996 (Art 1 of Act 2452/1996)
Greece - Άρθρα 2 του νόμου 2452/1996 (Art 2 of Act 2452/1996)
Greece - Άρθρο 72 περ. α’ του ν. 2910/2001 (Art 72(a) of Act 2910/2001)
Greece - Σύμβαση της Γενεύης 1951 Νομοθετικό Διάταγμα 3989/1959 (Geneva Convention 1951 Legislative Decree)
Greece - Act 2646/1998
Greece - Presidential Decree No. 266/1999
Greece - Presidential Decree No. 366/2002
Greece - Constitution - Art. 42
Greece - Constitution - Art. 35
Greece - Presidential Decree No. 189/1998
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Headnote: 

The provisions regarding the establishment and operation of Refugee Centres do not constitute a basis for ordering foreigners to stay in the said Centres, under penalty of having the asylum application procedure halted, on the sole ground that the police authorities consider their applications for asylum to be manifestly unfounded. The Refugee Centres were not established as centres where foreigners would be obliged to live – under penalty of halting the process of examining their applications for leave to remain – until the process had been completed, if those foreigners wish to and are able to stay elsewhere during the procedure, unless the Administration states that the measure is necessary for a specific and fully justified reason of public interest.

Facts: 

The Applicant, an Armenian citizen, illegally entered Greece on 14.10.2005 and, on 31.10.2005 at the Aliens Division of Thessaloniki Police Department, he submitted an application for recognition as a refugee within the meaning of the international 1951 Convention. On the same day order 330705/1-a/31.10.2005 was issued, which a) designated the Applicant's place of residence as being the Asylum Seeker Reception and Accommodation Centre at Kokkinopilos in Elassona, Larissa; b) ordered the Applicant to move into the said centre within a fortnight and to remain there throughout the duration of the procedure of examination of his application by the Larissa Police Department; and c) stated that “should he leave the Centre without authorisation, the process of examining his application will be halted in accordance with the provisions of Article 2(8) of Presidential Decree 61/1999.” This petition, properly interpreted, sought suspensive effect for the said order by the Chief of Thessaloniki Aliens Division insofar as it obliged the Applicant to stay in the aforementioned Centre until completion of the process of examining his application, under penalty of having that process halted. The Applicant filed a petition for annulment of the contested order, and that was set for hearing on 6.2.2007. In addition, an interim order on 12.4.2006 by the President of Chamber D suspended the effect of the contested order until after the Suspension Committee issued its decision on the petition in question.

Decision & Reasoning: 

The C.o.S. referred extensively to the relevant provisions (the definition of a refugee, procedures for examining asylum applications, reception of foreigners and asylum seekers) of the 1951 Convention, as ratified in the Greek legal system, and also to relevant Greek legislation. The C.o.S. paid particular attention to the provision of Article 2(8) of Presidential Decree 61/1999 which stipulates that: a) Any foreigner in Greece who submits an application for asylum must give the Administration a specific residential address where he can be contacted during the process of examining his application, and where he can easily be served any order arising from that process. Failure to declare a specific residential address, or changing the stated address without notifying the authorities accordingly, constitutes a reason to halt the process of examining the application; b) If the person in question fulfils the obligation to declare a specific residential address, it is possible to require him to move and to stay at another location if, in the Administration's specifically and fully reasoned opinion, there would be a threat to national security or public order if the person remains at the declared address. The C.o.S. pointed out that the provisions regarding the establishment and operation of Refugee Centres do not constitute a basis for ordering foreigners to stay in the said Centres, under penalty of having the asylum application procedure halted, on the sole ground that the police authorities consider their applications for asylum to be manifestly unfounded. The C.o.S. added that the Refugee Centres were not established as centres where foreigners would be obliged to live – under penalty of halting the process of examining their applications for leave to remain – until the process had been completed, if those foreigners wish to and are able to stay elsewhere during the procedure, unless the Administration states that the measure is necessary for the specific and fully justified reason of public interest. The C.o.S., considering the facts, held that evidence in the file showed that the Applicant had fulfilled his obligation to declare a specific residential address because the application for asylum gave the address of his cousin, G. A., who has Greek nationality. The C.o.S. held that the 7.12.2005 report by the Deputy Chief of Thessaloniki Aliens Division was irrelevant insofar as it stated that the Applicant had entered the country on 14.10.2005 and, therefore, “he had not lived at the declared residential address in Thessaloniki for a long period of time, nor did he have any specific job.” Similarly, it was held that there was no evidence in the file to support the claim that the order was issued “in the context of the reception and accommodation measures stipulated for homeless asylum applicants” because it had been established that the Applicant “lacked accommodation”. The C.o.S. added that there were no reasons of public interest which would prevent the Applicant from staying at the declared address. Finally, the C.o.S. held that the report's reference to the Applicant's application for asylum being considered “manifestly unfounded and abusive because the Applicant's allegations of persecution are unsubstantiated”, does not give lawfully and adequately justified grounds for issuing the contested order.

Outcome: 

The Suspension Committee ordered the Administration to continue examining the application which the Applicant had submitted, regardless of whether or not he had complied with the requirements of the contested order. The Suspension Committee also ordered the Administration to fully restore the Applicant to the status he should, by law, have been in having submitted his application for asylum, by granting him (if it had not already done so) the required “permit for foreign asylum seeker”. Finally, it ordered the fee to be returned and ordered the State to pay the Applicant's court costs.

Observations/Comments: 

Court composed of: M. Vrontakis, Vice-president, President of Chamber D;

P. Kotsonis, D. Gratsias, Councillors;

The Clerk was A. Triadi, Clerk of Chamber D.

Case Law Cited: 

Greece - Council of State, Application No. 2999/1988

Greece - Council of State, Application No. 3136/1989

Greece - Council of State, Application No - 4108-9/1999

Greece - Council of State, Application No. 174/2006