NEWS

Asylum bill faces criticism by human rights organizations

TANIA GEORGIOPOULOU

TAGS: Migration, Human Rights

As migrant flows from Turkey to the Greek islands continue unabated, the Ministry of Citizens’ Protection was expected to submit a bill to Parliament early Tuesday introducing drastic changes to the country’s asylum system.

The government hopes that the new measures, which are to go into effect next year, will accelerate procedures and help decongest severely overcrowded island facilities.

The phase of public consultation on the bill was completed at 4 p.m. on Monday amid complaints from parties and nongovernmental groups over the tight five-day deadline.

Six organizations (Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, the Hellenic League for Human Rights, the Greek Council for Refugees, the Greek Forum of Migrants and HumanRights360) have criticized the legislation, particularly Article 46, which enables authorities to detain asylum seekers.

In a statement, they warned of “serious human rights violations… that will push a large number of people into a gray zone with no documents or rights.” They will hold a joint press conferenceon Wednesday to voice their concerns.

Meanwhile, 1,249 migrants and refugees landed on Greek islands, mostly Lesvos and Samos, between Thursday and Monday morning, taking advantage of the good weather.

The Paros Jet ferry was expected to transfer 700 migrants from Samos to Piraeus on Tuesday. Still, more than 5,000 people remain stranded in and around the island’s facility at Vathy, which was designed to hold 650 people.

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