The only thing necessary for the persistence of evil is for enough good people to do nothing

Out of Control

The German-based PRO ASYL (National Working Group for Refugees) conducted research into Greece’s asylum procedures between October 20th and 28th 2008. The following report details the findings of Karl Kopp, the Director of European Affairs. I wanted to post it in full but I don’t have the time to clean up the formatting in the pdf to make it readable on the blog.

Please take the time to download and read the article in full. It is pretty shocking to see the absolute failure of the asylum “procedure” here in Greece laid out in a single document. From simply being unable to cope to absolute obstruction, police brutality and illegal activity.

If you have any problems, downloading or viewing the article, please contact me at thedeviousdiva and I will send you an unformatted text document.

Some introductory things that I would like to point out from the document (sorry about the format problems!):

Greece is unable to meet current asylum requirements

For months, thousands of protection seekers had tried in vain to claim asylum. They were
turned away. “Come back in two months,“ asylum seekers were told at the entrance. This policy of closed doors means that people wishing to claim asylum cannot enter the building and, therefore, have no access to asylum procedures. As a result, people seeking protection are at risk of arrest.

On 27.10.2008, the Greek Ombudsman published a 13-page document showing how access to asylum is denied or obstructed. The current “humanitarian crisis” says the report, has, above all, exposed the impotence and structural shortcomings of the Greek administration.This “structural malfunction” was particularly incomprehensible because Greece had been processing refugee and migrant claims for some 15 years now. Coincidentally, an Ombudsman delegation visited Petrou Ralli Street on 3.10.2008 and found that the Central Immigration and Asylum Authority had ceased to accept asylum applications for “an unspecified period“. The Ombudsman had already criticised the obstruction of access to asylum procedures in a number of previous reports. Asylum seekers had a basic right to enter the building and use asylum procedures. Refusals to accept asylum applications placed those seeking protection in great danger. These individuals faced arrest and deportation. The centralised Greek system for asylum applications and processing “ran completely counter to the basic principle of political asylum“.

In Greece, individual reasons are not given for rejecting asylum applications. A study carried out by the UNHCR has proved that negative decisions never refer to the reasons why asylum was requested. There is no discussion of the facts, no detailed legal reasoning. In 2007, 25,113 asylum applications were filed in Greece. A first instance decision was issued in 20,692 cases. In 20,684 cases, the decision was negative. Refugee status was granted in just eight cases. In a further 52 cases “humanitarian status“ was extended. This status must be extended annually. The Greek Ministry of the Interior, for its part, includes such extensions in its statistics but the UNHCR does not include them in its recognition rate data.

and on and on and on. Please download and read this. I will try and post other details from the file over the next few days (if I have the chance.).. but you could just download it and read !

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,


  1. Michael Scowcroft
    December 3, 2008    

    We have enormous problems in processing asylum seekers in the UK too.. We are a rich country so i dread to think what’s happening in Greece….

    In fact, the immigration and asylum problem in the UK is so bad that we will soon declare an “Amnesty” for asylum seekers. This would mean that any illegal immigrant or asylum seeker can simply “declare” he/she is in the country and he/she will be granted “legal status”, no questions asked..We just can’t cope with the huge influx of immigrants (and we’re a rich country with good infrastructure)…i dread to think what is happening in relatively poor Greece….

  2. Xenos
    December 3, 2008    

    According to UNHCR ranking data for 2006 (the latest year for full data), the refugee burden on the UK ranked 30-40 across the world for refugees by either GDP p.c. or population size. Greece ranked around 100. The countries that really have a burden are all in Africa and Asia up to rank 35 (USA) for GDP. For ranking by population burden, Armenia is first, followed by many Asian and African countries. The European countries of Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Netherlands, Switzerland are all way ahead of the UK in refugees per head of population. Greece just doesn’t get into the picture.

    With recent asylum applications, Greece has started to have a problem with processing applications. Instead of dealing with this, they choose to break the law and block everything. If you apply for asylum in Greece, typically they refuse to allow you to state the reason for application. They allow you to apply only in Athens; they try to trick people by giving a pink card and a rejection slip at the same time, requiring an appeal in 10 days. People don;t understand the slip (it is in Greek) and are then arrested when they try to renew the pink card. Today, Kathimerini reports that applications in Athens are accepted for only one day a week (again).

    Basically, this is all a fundamental breach of the Geneva Convention and of basic human rights. I don’t even mention the serious criminal acts recorded by HRW and others concerning the Greek (and Turkish) border guard. There is no comparison at all with other West European civilised countries.

  3. Xenos
    December 3, 2008    

    Here is a link to the Human Rights Watch report based on research conducted in Greece this year:

  4. Michael Scowcroft
    December 5, 2008    

    Thanks for posting the hrw report Xenos.

    It seems the Greek authorities cannot cope with the influx of immigrants and are breaking their own laws to “manage” immigration…
    It’s sad to see that Greece is circumventing it’s own laws (and breaking the Geneva convention) but i can sort of understand why this happens in countries with a relatively poor infrastructure such as Greece.

    In my country, we have the infrastructure to cope but we still mistreat immigrants:
    British guards ‘assault and racially abuse’ deportees

    Rich countries should have “no excuse” for the totally unnacceptable treament of immigrants to their countries. US treatment of Mexican immigrants for example:

    “Attacks against Mexican Immigrants
    Have Evolved into a National Psychosis”

    I think that my country too, owes a certain level of responsibility for the immigration problems and uncertainty around the world. If we didn’t “get into bed” with America and wage unnecessary wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there wouldn’t be so many political and economic refugees from these countries. And we wouldn’t be witnessing the abuse of the Geneva Convention in Guantanamo Bay and in Iraq …
    (Waking up to British abuses in Iraq )..

    British Imperialism did not die in the 19th century, our actions in Iraq and Afghanistan exacerbates the immigration problem around the world …then, we point the finger at these poorer countries for lacking the ability to cope with the problems WE created…

  5. December 5, 2008    

    Apologies to regular readers of this blog. I am unable to access my dashboard so I cannot post anything for now. My blog guru is working on it but it seems that the server has been hacked and all the permissions changed. All very technical and annoying but it happens. I am not in anything like the frenzy I would have been in a year ago if this had happened. In fact, it’s quite good because I have so much work in the real world to finish, that I could do with the break…

    If you are relatively new here and would like something to read, check out “Today in History” (top right of the sidebar) and the Roma Series or Important Posts in the tabs at the top of the page.

    See you very soon (I hope) with some new posts.
    Thank you for your patience.

  6. December 5, 2008