Minister defends draft bill saying it will respect asylum seekers in practice, not just in theory

Minister defends draft bill saying it will respect asylum seekers in practice, not just in theory

Defending a new draft bill on migrants, Citizens Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis told lawmakers on Wednesday that it will respect the rights of asylum seekers in “practice and not only in theory.”

Contrary to the previous asylum system which, he noted, placed almost half of all asylum seekers at the mercy of traffickers, the new legislation “will lay down clear and precise rules ending ambiguity over what really applies at the legislative level, ambiguity affecting the functioning of the services and the applicants themselves, who were unable to understand exactly what the procedure was or  their rights and  obligations.”

The bill, which will be voted in α plenary session of Parliament on Thursday, October 31, has come under fire from rights groups, which argue that they have not been given enough time to assess the impact the new regulations will have 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.

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