NEWS

UNHCR slams bill for stricter asylum law

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) yesterday criticized a draft bill under consideration that it fears will compromise the fair examination of asylum applications in Greece, the first port of call in Europe for thousands of migrants. According to the UNHCR, the draft presidential decree, which foresees a reorganization of the asylum-processing system, «would deprive asylum seekers of access to an effective remedy as required by EU law.» The bill also gives no guarantee that «non police bodies» will have an effective role in the process, the UNHCR said. Greece has one of the lowest rates for asylum application approval of all EU countries, with only 344 appeals accepted last year out of 19,884 applications submitted in 2008. Authorities reportedly have a backlog of 30,000 appeals lodged by asylum seekers whose initial applications were rejected.