UNHCR: Legal considerations on the return of asylum-seekers and refugees from Greece to Turkey

UNHCR has published legal considerations on the return of asylum-seekers and refugees from Greece to Turkey under the safe third country and first country of asylum concept. This is envisaged in the EU-Turkey deal, as set out in the European Council statement and conclusions of 18 March 2016, with further information in the European Commission Factsheet. UNHCR analyses the ‘first country of asylum’ and ‘safe third country’ concepts in international and European refugee and human rights law, in particular highlighting strict substantive criteria and procedural safeguards set out in the recast Asylum Procedures Directive (rAPD).

It considers that in the absence of a definition of the meaning of ‘sufficient protection’  in Article 35(b) rAPD and the widely divergent approaches to the application of this among Member States, the appropriate course of action would be for a national Greek court to make a reference to the CJEU. It also finds that clarification is needed over whether Syrian asylum seekers returned from Greece to Turkey will be able to reavail themselves of temporary protection. In relation to the safe third country concept in Article 38(1) rAPD UNCHR notes that Greece must set out specific rules in national law, to comply with Article 38(2), and is unable to apply the safe third country concept prior to putting in place these rules. It is crucially important that the person concerned will receive protection in accordance with the1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol (Article 38(1)e) rAPD) which means that Turkey must allow non-European nationals or stateless persons to have access to all rights conferred by the 1951 Convention. In the absence of a clear understanding of this provision, the appropriate course of action would be for a national court to submit a request for a preliminary ruling to the CJEU on the interpretation of Article 38(1)e) rAPD. 

Resource category: 
Documentation
UNHCR,
Keywords: 
Safe third country
Reception conditions; general rights and entitlements,
Resource date: 
25-03-2016