OPINION

Asylum politics

The percentage is similar in both cases. And so is the reaction: shock and anger. Greece?s asylum recognition rate, concerning mainly applicants from Asia and Africa, is barely over 0.1 percent. Meanwhile, the number of times that the Greek Parliament has lifted the so-called deputies? ?asylum,? or the immunity for politicians from prosecution, stands at zero.

In both cases – political asylum and parliamentary immunity (which could be seen as customary or institutional) – there is no shortage of excuses. If the pile of uninvestigated claims for political asylum is growing (the number is already over 46,000), the reason for this should not be attributed to inadequate infrastructure, as is usually done.

A fundamental reason behind this huge failure lies in the deep prejudice of the authorities and institutions which, turning their back on the evidence of a tortured body, only have an eye out for the ?cunning? immigrants who lodge claim after claim just to buy time. The extremists among them, the theory goes, sew their lips together merely in order to get the attention of the international community.

As for the refusal to lift the ?asylum? status of Greece?s accountable deputies, a single excuse is said to be enough. Given that man has been defined as a political animal and given that deputies are men, then all their acts are political – even a hooligan-style invasion of a soccer field, a traffic offense (which may have cost a human life), the granting of a work permit to someone who fulfills none of the official qualifications (of course the sponsor happens to have been appointed general secretary of sports), or carrying out construction work without a license.

Putting together what the law says about the ?deputies? responsibility? and the adaptations made to the statute of limitations (with bipartisan consensus) leads to three conclusions: first, that with regard to the Vatopedi land swap and the Siemens bribery scandals, voters will just have to get used to their ignorance and anger while those who benefited from the dodgy deals will get away with their rewards. Secondly, any news reports concerning the wrongdoing and punishment of politicians will come from abroad – the UK, Japan or Iceland. Thirdly, whenever we do get a taste of justice here, it will be in cases concerning those whose political careers are over – such as former Socialist cadres Akis Tsochatzopoulos or Anastasios Mantelis – who will be hung out to dry.