Controversial asylum bill goes to Parliament

Controversial asylum bill goes to Parliament

Greek MPs were presented on Tuesday morning with a draft bill aimed at reducing the number of refugees and migrants trapped in the country by lengthy bureaucratic procedures.

Seeking to speed up the asylum and deportation processes, the Citizens' Protection Ministry legislation, which was tabled late on Monday, has come under fire from rights groups, which also argue that they have not been given enough time to assess the impact of the regulations the center-right government hopes to introduce on tens of thousands of individuals.

If passed, the new system would prevent appeals against negative asylum decisions that are not shown in an official brief to have legal merit, while also scrapping recognition of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a valid basis for an asylum claim, unless it is backed by ample medical evidence.

It would also allow asylum boards’ rulings and decisions to be delivered to a legal representative of the claimant in the event that he or she cannot be located, thus allowing decisions to come into effect faster, while abolishing the right to temporary residence and work permits if a claim is rejected at the first degree.

Under the new rules, the movement of refugees and migrants would also be restricted.

Anyone protesting their transfer to another facility from a reception center or objecting to any other part of the system, for example, would be treated as reneging on their right to apply for asylum. All claimants also have to remain at official camps or other accommodation for the duration of the process so that they can be located in the event that their application is rejected and they are slated for deportation.

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.” 

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