UN Special Rapporteur "concerned" about the 2002 readmission protocol between Greece and Turkey signed in 2002 - is Turkey a "safe" country?


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- The EU intends to use this agreement/protocol to return refugees to Turkey considered not to be in need of international protection who arrive in Greece from Sunday 20 March 2016 onwards.


European Commission: Factsheet on the EU-Turkey Agreement (pdf) includes:


"On what legal basis will irregular migrants be returned from the Greek islands to Turkey?

People who do not have a right to international protection will be immediately returned to Turkey. The legal framework for these returns is the bilateral readmission agreement between Greece and Turkey. From 1 June 2016, this will be succeeded by the EU-Turkey Readmission Agreement, following the entry into force of the provisions on readmission of third country nationals of this agreement." [emphasis added]

This "agreement" was considered by the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau (dated, 17 April 2013, pdf) who observed:

"Greece-Turkey and EU-Turkey readmission agreements

1.          A readmission protocol between Greece and Turkey was signed in 2002. The Special Rapporteur is concerned that this agreement focuses almost exclusively on combatting "illegal" migration. While it "does not affect the rights and obligations arising from other international agreements binding upon the Parties", it does not provide any specific guarantees for respecting the human rights of migrants, such as non-refoulement or the principle of the best interests of the child. Given the obstacles to access asylum procedures and to identify other vulnerable groups such as unaccompanied children, victims of trafficking and victims of torture in Greece, there is a serious risk that persons returned under the readmission agreement with Turkey might indeed be in need of protection. 

2. The Special Rapporteur notes that the number of migrants returned to Turkey under the bilateral agreement is low, and that Greece expects that it will be able to readmit more migrants once the EU-Turkey readmission agreement enters into force. 

3. The Special Rapporteur strongly urges Greece to fully respect its human rights obligations in relation to all its readmission agreements, including the Greece-Italy, Greece-Turkey and EU-Turkey agreements. The non-refoulement principle must always be respected for all migrants proposed for readmission." [emphasis added]

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